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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Population: 485, Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time

1. Have you returned home after being away for an extended period? If so, what was it like? Was town the same as you remembered? Did you choose to stay?

2. Does New Auburn remind you of your community or any community you have been to? While Perry highlights details intended to make New Auburn and some of its residents seem unique, is it possible that these details also make them more universal?

3. What is the small town dynamic? How does it differ from life in bigger cities? How is the small town dynamic replicated within segments of larger cities? Perry has said he enjoys exploring New York City. Might there not be comfort in the anonymity of a larger place?

4. Perry seems to deal with the notion of death and emergency situations very calmly and rationally. Are these abilities inherent, or can they be learned? How do you deal with similar situations? How did you feel when you read the line, "Puke is the great constant."?

5. Perry explores the stressful aspects of fire and ambulance calls, but he also suggests that even the worst calls weave themselves into a sense of history and place that is ultimately comforting. How does the passage of time contribute to this process? How might it differ from person to person?

6. Not everyone can go home or would want to. What is it in Perry's personality that draws him back to his hometown? Is finding your place in the community an active or a passive process?

7. If you could share a bowl of piping hot deep-fried cheese curds with one character in Population: 485, who would it be, and why?

Population: 485, Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time
by Michael Perry

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2003
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0060958073
  • ISBN-13: 9780060958077