The ABC – Yes, I’m Alive

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

My apologies, fellow Avocado Book Club readers. Unfortunately, I’ve been very busy working on my thesis proposal. So, to address the concerns that a few of you have been allaying – no, I’m not dead – merely praying for its sweet blissful release.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for – well, someone – from this club’s reading selection. We don’t yet know who exactly is victim of the untimely demise just yet. All we know is that a boy comes stumbling down a mountain, and little else. Yes, we’ll be doing This Census-Taker.

So here’s how this club will work. The first formal discussion will be March 6th, and it will cover the first half of the book. My copy does not have chapter numbers, but we’ll stop just before the chapter which begins with “There is a kind of thorn bush which thrives on the hill where I was born. I’ve never seen it anywhere else. It stand about a meter tall, with dense with compact snarled branches that flow in dense near-cylinders so it’s copses are like low, snagging pillars. It’s all-year berries are blue-gray but in the red light of sunset their luster makes them shine like black pupils.” In my copy, this is on page 93.

The second formal discussion will be March 13th, when we will plan to have the book finished.

Between now and these discussion days, I’m putting up temporary threads which will allow you to discuss the book as you go along. Please spoiler your comments on this thread if appropriate, and include what page you’re on, in order to facilitate the discussion for fellow readers.

Here are some discussion questions to keep in mind:

Describe the framing device. Why do you think that Mieville chooses to use it? What exactly is this book meant to be (the book itself is inserted into the novella).

How does the use of an unreliable narrator add to the plot? What does that convey in terms of the novella’s deeper themes?

What is currently happening elsewhere in this world? During the boy’s story? And what about in the time frame of the framing device?

What do the keys symbolize? What about the process of keymaking? (editor’s note: I actually haven’t quite figured this one out)

What are your thoughts on how Samma and Drobe are introduced? Do you think that Mieville meant this as commentary? What were your thoughts on the characters as a whole?

What level of technology do you think that this world has attained? How do you imagine the town? The larger world? Much of this setting is so sparse that you can associate your own imagination with it.

Why is it do you think that the mother’s character isn’t strongly delved into?