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I Sailed with Magellan



Awards: ALA Notable Books - Winner, Fiction; Society of Midland Authors Book Awards - Winner, Adult Fiction

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About The Author

Stuart DybekStuart Dybek

Stuart Dybek is the author of two collections of short fiction, The Coast of Chicago and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods, as well as a volume of poetry, Brass Knuckles. A professor of English at Western Michigan University, he lives in Kalamazoo.

photo: © Jon Randolph

Awards

ALA Notable Books - Winner, Fiction
Society of Midland Authors Book Awards - Winner, Adult Fiction

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Reading Group Gold

For Discussion

1. In the story “Live from Dreamsville,” Perry conjures an imaginary trapdoor in his bed. What

other sorts of “trapdoors” are to be found throughout the stories?

2. Why do you think Dybek chose to title the book after a phrase in a song sung by Perry’s little

brother Mick?

3. In the story “Breasts” (page 60), Joe Ditto says, “There’s always some vulnerability that a

personality is reorganized to protest.” What sort of vulnerabilities do Dybek’s characters carry?

What sorts of people do they become as a result, and how are they connected by this

psychological process or instinct?

4. Discuss the structure of Dybek’s story “Breasts.” Why do you think the author employs a

shifting point of view? How, other than incident, are Joe, Zip, Teo, and the young brothers

Perry and Mick connected?

5. In what way is music — and the making of music — used throughout the book?

6. What sort of images and objects reappear in these stories? Why do you think Dybek returns to

this ephemera?

7. Who are the women in this book? Who are they to Perry and what roles do they play in the

world of Little Village, Chicago?

8. In “We Didn’t,” the outside event of a dead body seems to precipitate the end of Perry and

Gin’s love affair. Elsewhere in I Sailed with Magellan, the forces of the characters’

environment seem to affect them in tangible and profound ways. What is Dybek trying to say

about the city, about community, and about the world at large?

9. Additionally, Dybek’s world is one where so much is overheard, through open windows,

across bars, up through pipes or behind apartment walls. How does this outer-web of

information affect change in the book?

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