1. Ruth thinks we’re on the brink of a new moral era. Do you think our notions of responsibility are changing now that we can immediately see the consequences of our actions?

2. The narrator mocks the folk fest attendees for their self-congratulatory support for civil rights battles long won. Given today’s political climate, would you agree?

2. Ruth thinks what we want determines what we permit ourselves to think. Do you agree?

3. Why do you think Ruth decided to speak out at the Folk Fest?

4. The narrator, Con Manos, considers himself unlikeable. Do you like or trust him?

5. How would you describe the relationship between Con’s and Ruth?

6. What’s the purpose of Con’s report? Who is it for?

7. Con Manos outlines the current division between those who believe in objective truth and those who think what we call reality is inextricably involved with the human mind. Do you agree with one side or the other of this debate?

8. Worthy suggests that the greatness of an idea depends on timing and context. Do you agree? Some statements in the novel are deliberately thrown away; does that make them seem less profound?

9. Ruth describes a situation at her radio station involving a marketing scheme popular some years ago. Why do you think the author employed this regressive strategy?

10. Ruth is clearly a woman in extremity. Does that make her a more sympathetic character? If she a likeable person?

11. David Cevallos is an artist and a politician. How does one side of his nature influence the other?

12. Jimmy Manetti is presented as a very ordinary man. Are evil people often dull? Why?

13. Is Thom Askew an admirable man? Did you think him more charming or manipulative? Is he a true romantic?

14. Margery Haskell decides to embrace what many would consider a conspiracy theory. Do you think her justified?

15. An auto accident is a crucial event in the novel. Do you think it was a simple accident? If so, was Ruth in any way responsible? If not, who might have been behind it, and why?

16. Ruth presents her theory about what makes art, art. What do you think of it?