Monthly Archives: October 2014

Discussion Questions: Mikawadizi Storms

BookCoverImageSomeone suggested I provide discussion questions for Mikawadizi Storms. These would prove useful (the suggestion went on) for book clubs looking for winter book selections. Here goes…

  1. A dark cloud forms over Evie Arnold early in the book and follows her around. What does this cloud symbolize? What purpose does it serve in the larger narrative?
  2. Several cats show up in the narrative, Ghost Cat, Stuffed Cat, and Fluffy the Cat. Are these the same cat? Is there (to paraphrase Nikos Kazantzakis) ‘only one cat in the world, with a million faces?’
  3. Business mogul Clive Gready forms a men’s chorale group of politicians helping him with his mining project, the Restoration of American Prosperity Chorus. What does this symbolize? What is the purpose of this group in the novel?
  4. Bart Gready develops at first distracting, eventually painful noises in his ears and doesn’t free himself from them until late in the novel. Where do these noises come from?
  5. According to the two old women, Betty and Bitty La Quin, brothers Ed Commercant and Ward Commercant were born one person, Edward. How did Edward become two people? Why? Will he restore his unity one day?
  6. Lotta Moore and Cheryl Pepin confide in Evie they are mother and daughter and, despite appearances, are 130 and 92 years old respectively. Are they pulling Evie’s leg? How is this possible?
  7. What is the purpose of the fable about Namekagon and Makwa the Bear early in the novel? Is the Namekagon who shows up later in the story the same character? Is Makwa?
  8. There are several short narratives regarding college students (April Le Boeuf, Alison Martin, Sarah Laurent, and Louis Dubois) in the novel. They appear to be peripheral to the main story. What is the purpose of these side excursions and what is their relationship to the main theme of the novel?
  9. Wesley Dubois appears to undergo metamorphosis into the butterfly Wesley Danaus Plexippus and migrate to Mexico. Does he? Or is this a fantasy of his aging brain?
  10. Karen Prescott worries Indians will cast a spell over her baby in the womb and he’ll be born without a heart. What is the source for her worry? The resolution?

Incidentally, if you’re considering Mikawadizi Storms as a book club selection, email me ( and I’ll see if I can arrange a discount with the publisher.


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Ouray’s Peak by Leigh Podgorski

17619681Ouray’s Peak is a very satisfying coming-of-age story, with an exciting twist — the protagonist, Kristin Tabor, is on an inward (and outward) journey to find herself, but the herself she seeks is destined to be, like her mother, an Indian shaman/healer.

The novel begins with a heartbreaking conflict. Kristin’s mother disappears and what has been a stable, supporting, insular family becomes an uneasy triad of alcoholic father, older brother striving to maintain stability, and confused teen-aged girl, all abandoned. Kristin’s quest to find her missing mother takes her far away physically and spiritually, as she enters a world she scarcely imagined.

Once I picked this book up I kept reading until I finished, and I wanted it to go on. Podgorski shows uncommon sensitivity for issues the novel raises, and the writing skill to translate that sensitivity into compelling narrative.

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