• Picador
Reading Group Gold
Apples and Oranges - Marie BrennerSee larger image
See Hi-Res Jpeg image


email/print EmailPrint

Apples and Oranges




Listen: Marie Brenner on The Ronn Owen Program (KGO-AM) (Duration: 60 min.)
Loading the player ...
Book Buy
Ebook Ebook 
    
Share this book with friends through your favorite social networking site. Share:           Bookmark and Share
Add this title to your virtual bookshelves at any of these book community sites. Shelve:             
sign up to get updates about this author
add this book's widget
to your site or blog

About The Author

Marie BrennerMarie Brenner

MARIE BRENNER's Vanity Fair exposé of the tobacco industry was the basis for the Academy Award-nominated film The Insider. She also wrote Great Dames: What I Learned from Older Women.

photo: Robert Mitra

Stay In Touch

Sign up to recieve information about new releases, author appearances, special offers, all related to you favorite authors and books.

Other Books You Might Like

cover Buy

More formats
eBook
The Housekeeper and the Professor
A Novel

Picador
He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem—ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.  She...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
The Discomfort Zone
A Personal History

Picador
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year The Discomfort Zone is Jonathan Franzen’s tale of growing up, squirming in his own über-sensitive skin, from a...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Fieldwork
A Novel

Picador
When his girlfriend takes a job in Thailand, Mischa Berlinski goes along for the ride, planning to enjoy himself and work as little as possible. But one...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Indian Summer
The Secret History of the End of an Empire

Picador
At the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the British Empire withdrew from India, inviting in all the exhilaration and turmoil of a newly free society. In...
  
cover Buy
A Matter of Opinion

Picador
Winner of the 2005 George Polk Book Award Victor S. Navasky is the renowned editor, writer, and educator who was at the helm of The Nation for almost...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Golden Boy
Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood

Picador
At seven years old, Martin Booth found himself with all of Hong Kong at his feet when his father was posted there in 1952. This is his memoir of that youth, a...
  
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Possible Side Effects

Picador
National Bestseller From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Running with Scissors comes Augusten Burroughs's most provocative collection of...
cover Buy

More formats
Audio eBook
The Hare with Amber Eyes
A Hidden Inheritance

Picador
An Economist Book of the Year Costa Book Award Winner for Biography Galaxy National Book Award Winner (New Writer of the Year Award) Edmund...
cover Buy
Bad Kitty Gets a Bath

Square Fish
Break out the bandages! Bad Kitty needs a bath. And she’s not getting in the tub without a fight.
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Thinking, Fast and Slow

Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks
Major New York Times bestsellerWinner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award in 2012Selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the best...
cover Buy

More formats
Audio
The Odyssey
The Fitzgerald Translation

Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks
The classic translation of The Odyssey, now in a Noonday paperback. Robert Fitzgerald's translation of Homer's Odyssey is the best and best-loved modern...

Reading Group Gold

Discussion Questions

1. Marie Brenner’s memories encompass a variety of settings, particularly central Texas,

New York, and her brother’s Washington orchards. What identities and cultures are

captured in each of these settings? Where does she feel most at home? Which locale

would you prefer? To what degree does birthplace shape our sense of self?

2. What is the effect of the memoir’s timeline, weaving the near present with the distant

past? In what way does this structure mirror the way memories enter our lives?

3. What accounts for the tremendous personality differences between Marie and Carl,

despite their having had the same upbringing? What may have contributed to Carl’s

conservatism in the face of a family history that often embraced progressive ideas? In

terms of temperament, did Marie and Carl share any similarities?

4. How did the past repeat itself in Brenner family history? How is Marie affected by her

research into family lore, particularly her findings about Anita? Who are the most

colorful figures in your family’s past? How are we shaped by the knowledge of these

legacies?

5. In what ways does religion as a cultural institution figure into the Brenner identity? As

Marie captures the experience of Jewish immigrants who arrived in the United States

through Galveston, what costs and benefits are ascribed to assimilation, or life as a

secular Jew? How does Ilene’s approach to Christianity compare to Carl’s?

6. Marie describes her sorrowful encounter with her ancestors’ correspondence at the Harry

Ransom Center, as well as her childhood home, filled with typewriters on which many

carbon-copied letters were produced. What does it mean for her to come from a verbal

family that left miles of documentation in its wake? Is the truth captured in such

documents? Is the quest for answers a defense mechanism, as Marie proposes?

7. Discuss the experience of reading about Carl’s beloved orchards and the landscape of

rural Washington. What does his enthusiasm for agriculture—and his rejection of the

family’s apparel trade—say about him? In what ways does the perfectionistic process of

nurturing, harvesting, and exporting world-class produce serve as a metaphor for his

understanding of life?

8. Speaking before a crowded church, Ilene recalls that “we were going to weave a new

family, and no longer be part of the tapestry of brainy squabblers that had ended their

time together in silence and separation.” What degrees of reconciliation are achieved in

Carl’s lifetime? What are the greatest hurdles to reconciliation?

9. How did Thelma and Milton, at the helm of the Brenner household, shape their children’s

lives? What did Marie learn from Thelma about being a woman, and what did Carl learn

from Milton about becoming a man?

10. What does having a big brother signify to Marie? How does Carl seem to view the role of

his little sister? What binds them together, despite their extreme differences? How does

her perception of her brother differ from the way others see him?

11. How does Marie compare to the other women in Carl’s life? What qualities does he

appear to be drawn to? How do women respond to him?

12. With a reporter’s precision, Marie describes the tumultuous emotions with which her

brother confronted his illness as he tried both Chinese and western medicine, culminating

in a loss of confidence in the possibility for healing. What controls our reaction to fate?

What personality traits are reflected in the very different responses Carl and Marie

showed to his prognosis?

13. The closing scenes capture a memory of peace and laughter between Carl and Marie as

well as the beauty of the acreage he once tended. How will Casey’s generation remember

Carl’s and Marie’s? What will this sibling legacy be?

14. Marie’s preface begins with an advertising line from a movie trailer: “Every life has

moments that change us forever and make us who we are.” She observes that, despite the

hyperbole, it’s a true statement. What were the most pivotal moments she encountered in

her life? Which experiences have made you who you are?

15. How did you respond to the psychoanalytic theories described in the book regarding

siblings? How would you describe your relationship with your siblings? Do these

relationships affect (or reflect) the other interactions in your life—in love, at work, or

within friendships?

You May Also Be Interested In

cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Friendship
A Novel

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
A novel about two friends learning the difference between getting older and growing up Bev Tunney and Amy Schein have been best friends for years; now, at...
  
cover Buy

More formats
Audio eBook
Carsick
John Waters Hitchhikes Across America

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
A cross-country hitchhiking journey with America’s most beloved weirdo John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache,...
  
cover Buy

More formats
Audio eBook
The Unwinding
An Inner History of the New America

Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks
The 2013 National Book Award Winner A New York Times Bestseller American democracy is beset by a sense of crisis. Seismic shifts during a single...
  Bonus