Stories for Boys by Gregory Martin (Hawthorne Books, 2012)
- What do you think of Martin's response to his father's revelation? Why does he feel so strongly about it, even years later?
- The author expresses great affection for his mother, yet she is largely absent from his memoir. Why is this?
- Would the author's reaction to his father have been different had he been revealed to be a serial womanizer? What if his secret had been a single, long-term relationship with a man?
- Martin's father was a Catholic and regularly went to confessional. Is Martin's memoir a confessional itself? What is the reader's role in this process?
- Why did the author include his father's emails in his memoir? What effect does this have on the reader?
- On page 145, the poet Richard Hugo is quoted: "No two hurts are the same and most have compensations / too lovely to leave." What kinds of compensations do our hurts have?
- The author's father seems to have been a model parent, although his son says he did not fully appreciate it at the time. How, if at all, is this reality altered by the father's betrayal?
- How do aspects of Walt Whitman's life and writings relate to the author's and his father's experience?
- Was Martin's counselor's suggestion to fully express his anger good advice? Why or why not? What other advice might a therapist give the author, his father or his mother?
- Martin acknowledges that he can never tell his father's story, which might "confirm or contradict, clarify or confuse the stories I am telling here." (p. 181) What sorts of stories would Martin's father's memoir contain?
- On page 201, the author writes "I couldn't suppress the corrosive sense that I was an unreliable narrator of my own life." How do the passing of time and our changing selves alter our memories?
- The author's children react strongly when they learn their grandfather is gay; Evan is worried that this makes him part gay as well. What do you think of this reaction? Does Evan's response strike you as typical for a child his age?
- What roles does Martin's wife, Christine, play in the family?
- Why is the book called "Stories for Boys"? While readers of various ages and backgrounds might appreciate this memoir, what audience does the author seem to address most?
Reading Group Toolbox: A Conversation with Gregory Martin
Reading Group Toolbox: Suggested Further Reading