Sweet Thunder Discussion Points

1. What about returning to Butte worries Morrie, and what about his new post at the Thunder has the potential to put him and Grace in danger? What do you make of Morrie's decisions?

2. Doig's website describes Sweet Thunder at one level as "a domestic romp of Shakespearean proportions" and a "high-spirited, inventive, but historically acute portrait of a conflicted America." Knowing this, how might it affect your reading of the novel? 

3. Also by authorial intention, certain of the characters are larger than life. Which ones seem so to you, and what techniques of characterization are used to make them so?

4. When he first starts working at the Thunder, Morrie calls the newspaper a "daily miracle" and a "draft of history." What ideas-about the power of newspapers, of knowledge, and of history-is Doig exploring here and throughout the book?

5. Morrie also says that "A newspaper without a cause is little more than a tally sheet of mishaps," and takes pride in the Thunder as a publication rooted in justice and responsibility. Do you think the same could be said of any media outlets today? 

6. A couple of times, Morrie as narrator and protagonist breaks the "fourth wall" between cast of characters and audience to speculate on how the story would suddenly be shown in a new light if one of his assumed or presumed identities was actually the true one. Do you find this a departure from the straightforward storytelling until then, or an enhancement of the novel's
imaginative possibilities?

7. How does the struggle between the corporate power embodied by Anaconda and the individual power embodied by Morrie and the Thunder develop and change throughout the novel? How is it emblematic of larger themes in American history? Can you relate their conflict to American society today?

8. The value of fiction has been said to be telling a greater truth by making things up. Is this satisfactorily reflected in any of Morrie's shifting identities in the course of the story? Dubiously in any of them? 

9. Morrie, one of Ivan's most popular characters, previously appeared in The Whistling Season and Work Song, along with several other characters in Sweet Thunder. If you're new to Morrie and the crew, which character was your favorite, and why? And if you're new to Doig, what aspects of his style did you enjoy or find unique? If you've read another Morrie novel, whom were you happiest to see again? What are some of the author's touches, especially in characterizations and use of locales and dialogue, that establish continuity throughout the trilogy?

Synopsis  |  Discussion Points  | Background Notes