Below are some ideas for discussion in your group.
- In the acknowledgments note, the author reveals he is a serious amateur paleontologist, hunting fossils and bones in the Hell Creek Formation of eastern Montana. He has been credited by the Montana State Paleontologist for several T.rex discoveries. Do you think it makes the story more interesting to know the author is a real life dinosaur bone hunter? Do you feel you’ve learned how real paleontologists search for bones and then conduct a dig? Did you learn more about dinosaurs that you didn’t know already (e.g. that they may have lived in family groups?
- While in Montana, the author came to greatly admire the ranching families. He found them hard-working and educated but very much attuned to the cycles of nature and their cows and crops. Did the book allow you to understand these ranchers a little better? Discuss if you believe this way of life is doomed to disappear.
- Did you like the hero Mike Wire? Do you see him as flawed? Resolute? Funny? Peculiar? If you knew him, would you admire him or be uncertain as to his character? What did you like and dislike about Mike?
- The Square C ranch is run by Jeanette Coulter with an iron hand. What did you think of her? Do you think she’s cold and unloving or just completely dedicated to the ranch? Is Mike stupid to hold her in such high esteem and even to be in love with her? What do you think life on the Square C is like? Would you enjoy it?
- Could you let your kids be as free as the children of Montana ranchers are in this novel? Do we worry too much about kids today or it that these ranch kids are raised to be more self sufficient? Or do they just live in a simpler place than most of us do today?
- What about Pick’s ideas of Deep Time and the circle as a symbol of life and perhaps a deliberate signal from the universe as to the nature of our lives?
- Did you like Tanya? Do you think she and Mike could have made a happy life together had things worked out differently? How would you have seen their future playing out?
- Can you have any sympathy for Mayor Edith? Discuss her problems, justifications, and motivation for her actions.
Suggested Book Club dinner menu:
- Steak or Beef Roast
- Pinto beans and a hearty bread
- Corn casserole