Study Questions for "The Rapid Advance of Sorrow"by Theodora Goss & "The Lions are Asleep Tonight" by Howard. Waldrop

These two stories create a sense of estrangement through narrative structure and an entagling of actual geographic location with an imaginary realm, for both Goss and Waldrop set stories in known geographical settings but fictionalize those settings to suit their narrative purposes. Here are a few questions to consider for each story.

"The Rapid Advance of Sorrow" [2002] by Theodora Goss

  1. As he relates his story, the narrator sits in a cafe in Szent Endre, an actual city in north central Hungary near Budapest. However, in alternating sections, a distinctly different narrative voice comments on the mythical city of sorrow, or on sorrow as a state of mind. How does this dual narrative voice affect your understanding of the story? What is the relation between Peter's situation and the passages on sorrow?
  2. How would you summarize the situation of the story? That is why is Peter writing the letter to Istvan? What is Peter's situation and what compels his to tell Istvan his story?
  3. Is there a political critique in this story? If so, what is the basis of the critique? Hint: Look up "Trabants" [108]. Consider the implications of all the insurrectonists [and perhaps everyone in Budapest] turning milky white? Why the emphasis on the white?
  4. What is "entropy" and why do the insurrectionists use that word as a slogan? [109, 110, 112].

"The Lions Are Asleep This Night" by Howard Waldrop; first published in Omni [1986]

  1. What are the time period, situation, and geographical location of this story?
  2. What are the details of this alternate history? That is, what changes does Waldrop make in history as we know it?
  3. Why does Waldrop include the three appearances of the drunken white man in the story? See 250, 266, 271.
  4. How does Robert's fascination with regional folklore and Mr. Yotofeka's disdain for Robert's interest in that folklore and in history help to establish what is in conflict in the story?
  5. Ultimately, what do you see as Robert's motivation for writing his play about King Motofuko? Does his desire to write the play have any connection to the loss ofhis father?