Rare Stuff a Jewish-American ecofictional novel set in the mid-1990s primarily in Chicago and New York’s East Village but moving to glass houses under the sea, tells the story of Sidney Zimmerman, a slightly lost white-Jewish photographer working on an infinite series of portraits of interracial couples. After the sudden death of Sid’s father, the novelist and rare book librarian Aaron, Sid and her Black-Jewish Guadeloupean Melville scholar boyfriend André trace a series of wacky clues Aaron irritatingly left to lead them to the solution of the mysterious disappearance of Sid’s mother, a whale enthusiast named Dorothy, eighteen years earlier. Aaron also bequeathed them a manuscript, included as a novel-within-the-novel, set in an underwater universe sporting his wild ideas that his wife had been adopted by Yiddish speaking whales who try to save the planet.
September 1, 2021
Courtesy of Brett Ashley Kaplan
- What do the clues in the suitcase each represent?
- Why do you think Sid keeps breaking up with André?
- What do Sid and André learn about Aaron as they are looking for Dorothy?
- How do you think Sid’s personality was changed by having grown up with this mystery hanging over her?
- What do you think of Sid’s photography project? Have you seen a photography collection like hers?
- What did you expect Aaron’s manuscript, Slobgollion, to be like and how was it the same or different than your expectations?
- How important are the settings in this novel? Did you have a strong sense of place as you were reading?
- What did you think of the novel’s multiple narrators, multiple voices?
- If you’ve ever mourned anyone, does the way that Aaron keeps popping into Sid’s head resonate with you?
- If you had to pick based on the “book reviews” within the novel, which of Aaron Zimmerman’s books would you most like to read?
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