Did you notice any overarching themes in these stories? Anything that connects them?
- The struggle of being a good person when our culture/environment might be otherwise
- Families with financial burdens
Do any of these stories seem like they take place in the same world?
Were you able to find humor in any of the stories?
Did you identify with any characters in the book?
"Sticks" is short even by short story standards. What do you think Saunders accomplished (or was trying to accomplish) in this one to two pages?
Do any difficult people in your life have something equivalent to the poles -- a way of showing unusual affection or enthusiasm?
Marie thinks, after leaving without the puppy, "it was a nice pup, but Marie was not going to contribute to a situation like this in even the smallest way" (41). In the end, though, her actions led to Callie abandoning the puppy in the cornfield. What does it mean to "contribute" and has Marie already done so? What do you think an appropriate reaction to the situation would be?
"Escape from Spiderhead" could be classified as a different genre than the preceding stories since its premise is science fiction. Did you enjoy that change?
Abnesti justifies his experiments by saying he is working for the greater good and that the people harmed have done very bad things in the past. Do you think he is justified? If prisoners had a choice between regular prison and Spiderhead, then would the experiments be justified?
What sort of work do you imagine the workers Todd is addressing do?
Did you like or sympathize with Al Roosten?
How long did it take you to figure out what an "SG" was?
Do you think Saunders is trying to draw parallels between the Semplica Girls and any situations in our current culture?
In "home," what do you think happened to the narrator while he was at war? How can we explain the animosity he feels towards his family?Once again Saunders uses a science fiction pharmaceutical drug as a key element in the story. Why do you think he does this? Does the use of the drug allow him to express something about human nature that would be harder to show in a realistic story?
Why do you think the title of this story was chosen as the title for the book?