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In a broader sense, when can well-intentioned parenting meant to protect or support actually result in harm? The day she graduated from college, Keegan told her mother that she was especially proud of her Yale Daily News article “Even Artichokes Have Doubts,” which went on to be adapted for the New York Times and discussed on NPR.
In “Why We Care about Whales,” look for how Keegan man- ages the transitions between evocative descriptions, scien- tific research, individual experiences, whale-based crises, human suffering, a specific call to action, and the narra- tive of the dying whale.
Young writers might even color- code the individual “modes” to see when, how, and why Keegan shifts her focus.
Another way to examine a writer’s internal structure is to physically cut up a copy of a piece and then try to reassemble the individual paragraphs in the original order; try this with “I Kill for Money.” 19.
“Against the Grain” is particularly poignant and personal as it captures the voice of an exasperated teenager who comes to appreciate the lengths to which a parent will go to care for her child.
In addition to these examples of physical blindness, which stories include characters metaphorically blind to what lies before them? Specific mentions of Keats, Swan Lake, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí, Othello, Islamic architecture, Shakespeare, Monet’s lilies, Hemingway, Milton, and libraries appear throughout this collection.
How do these scholarly and artistic references enhance the more informal tone of Keegan’s prose? The last paragraphs of individual stories are worth careful examination and rereading.Do you worry that you need to compromise your own dreams for practical concerns? What do her jealousy and the confessed objects of her jealousy reveal? In pieces like “Why We Care about Whales,” “Putting the ‘Fun’ Back in Eschatology,” and “Song for the Spe- cial,” Keegan shares her concerns for the planet and the entire human race.She admits, “I worry sometimes that humans are afraid of helping humans” (p.What individ- ual details make the story most vivid?What imagery, such as the deconstructed scrapbook (p. Do you have an object or place in your own life that tracks a similar sense of growth or change? Any skilled writer focuses not only on individual sentences and images but also the larger structure of her work.What does she emphasize through her pacing and voice? How do these shared moments shape your reading of the col- lection? As Fadiman notes, one of Marina’s strengths is that she writes in her own voice as a young person. What interpersonal dynamics resonate for you as Claire reconsiders her relationship with Brian, her sense of her- self, and her unexpected connections to Lauren? In terms of pacing, tone, or emphasis, what advice would you give to someone performing these pieces or reading them aloud? Though Keegan was vibrantly alive in person, her writ- ing often considers death and mortality. I wanted to contribute something that would be there when I wasn’t.” Once you know that Keegan died in a car accident just five days after she gradu- ated from college, what lines from her stories and essays strike you most powerfully? In her personal journal, Keegan wrote, “I hate that I feel I am running out of time.What about her depiction of young love is particularly evocative? The cover photo, taken by Joy Shan, Yale class of 2015, captures Marina’s direct, confident presence. One of the adult characters in her play Utility Monster says, “I wanted to do something important . I must always remember that time is all there is and we are always running out of it.” At what points in this collection do you feel a similar sense of urgency?She had a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at the New Yorker.Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.Yet many readers have found its message to be universal, evoking their own days at college, at camp, or in any other tight-knit community. After reading this piece, have you realized you want to reevaluate any- thing in your own life?What makes Keegan’s words apply to any group of people who have found a powerful sense of connection? Given her sense of possibility and hope, as well as the permission to fail, is there some goal or project you now feel empowered to pursue? Some reviewers have responded most powerfully to Keegan’s nonfiction, while others find the fiction more compelling. Does this choice match your usual preference for fiction or non- fiction?