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Reader’s Guide: NIGHT FILM by Marisha Pessl

September 18th, 2013

Pessl_Night Film “Mysterious and even a little head-spinning, an amazing act of imagination.”—Dean Baquet, The New York Times Book Review

When you finish reading a book it is never really finished, is it? The characters, places, and stories live on in our heads and we love to discuss what we’ve read with anyone who will listen. Well, we’ve been buzzing about Marisha Pessl’s Night Film for quite some time now and the book has officially been on sale for a month, so if you or your book club has finished reading this novel then now it is time to start the discussion! Random House Reader’s Circle has the discussion questions to continue the conversation. Because, after all, we are never really finished with a book, are we?

Discussion Questions:

1. Professor Wolfgang Beckman accuses Scott of having “no respect for the murk. For the blackly unexplained. The unnail downable.” How does Scott’s perspective on mystery and the “blackly unexplained” change over the course of the novel?

2. Nora asks Scott, “How much evidence do you need before you wonder if it just might be real?” Do you think Scott’s skepticism is a mark of pride, as well as rationality, as Nora suggests? Why does he wish to believe in the curse after his conversation with Inez Gallo? How ready were you to believe in the curse?

3. Scott is relentless in his pursuit of the truth about Cordova. How far would you have gone, in his situation? Is there a point at which you would have stopped pursuing the truth?

4. Cordova’s films were filled with such horror and violence that, in many cases, they were banned from theaters. What is your perspective on violence—its role and its effects—in movies today?

5. Cordova’s philosophy is in many ways antithetical to our modern world, where transparency, over-sharing and social media are the norm. Did you feel drawn to Cordova’s philosophy, or repelled, or both? Why?

6. Discuss how Scott advertently or inadvertently involved his daughter Samantha in his investigation. What did you think of the role she wound up playing, in his discovery?

7. How does your perception of Scott change, from the beginning to the end of the novel?

8. What did you think of the evolution of Nora and Scott’s relationship?

9. Both Scott and Nora reflect on the power of memory and story to alter the way we relate to our experiences. Scott says: “It was never the act itself but our own understanding of it that defeated us, over and over again.” Nora says: “The bad things that happen to you don’t have to mean anything at all.” Do you agree?

10. Beckman says “Every one of us has our box, a dark chamber stowing the thing that lanced our heart.” Consider Nora, Hopper, Ashley, Cordova, and Scott. What do their boxes contain, and in what ways do these secrets motivate them? Imprison them?

11. What do you think helped Hopper come to peace with Ashley’s memory?

12. New York City is just as much a character in the novel as any one person. How does your personal experience of, or relationship with, the city affect your reading?

13. How did the visual elements throughout the book enhance or impact your reading experience?

Join the conversation with Marisha on Facebook and Twitter and stay up to date with her on her website.

Have you already read Night Film? We can’t wait to hear what you think! Share your thoughts with Random House Reader’s Circle on Facebook.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 at 2:30 pm and is filed under News, Reader's Guides. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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