TIME FOR : ReadMO2014!!!!! DEEP RIVER By David Hamilton

Please join in reading and discussing this year's selection for, ReadMO 2014.  (Contact Marshall Public Library for More Information)

Biographical information about the author of “Deep River” David Hamilton:

A graduate of Eastwood School and Marshall High School, Hamilton went on to Amherst College, to two years of teaching in Barranquilla, Colombia, and then to the University of Virginia for his PhD before joining the English Departments of the University of Michigan, then, for much longer, the University of Iowa where he became Professor of English, teaching Chaucer and Shakespeare, writing courses of several kinds, lyric poetry, and more.  Along with publishing Deep River: A Memoir of a Missouri Farm, and Ossabaw (a collection of poems), he edited The Iowa Review for over thirty years and has been a Fulbright Professor at the Universitat de València in Spain.  Having retired from Iowa, he lives in Iowa City with his wife, cat, and two dogs, where he gardens, watches birds, tries to become a better handyman, and travels when he can, especially to children and grandchildren in Philadelphia and St. Paul.  

Suggested Discussion Questions for “Deep River”



1.  The first sentence of “Deep River” is "Rivers are forever."  Are they?  Do you believe that?  If so, what then?


2.  Next, "At least we think they should be . . . ."  Do you agree?  If so, what does that lead to?  If not?


3.  Rivers are never of but one community.  They lead from one to another, pass through several, become a chain.  Which means that from the point of view of any one place, a river links you with outsiders, with others, with strangers.  Any thoughts about that?


4. Hamilton lived well over three quarters of his life away from and outside of the community of which he writes.  What effect do you think that has on the book?  Would he have written it had that not been so?  What if any is the difference between living "away from" and "outside of"?


5. Two clear outside presences in this story are French explorers and traders (Part II) and Chicago here and there throughout.  What do they add?


6. At the end of his Intro, "Laces," Hamilton considers the idea of our roots in a place and asks, "What kind of a metaphor is 'roots' anyway?"  Does he answer that question?  Does he find his roots in his memoir?  What do you make of that popular idea?


7.  His subtitle is "A Memoir of a Missouri Farm."  What kind of memoir can a farm have?  Why does he not just write his memoir?  How far does he go toward writing a memoir of a piece of land?


8.  Of the four sections of the book, one emphasizes the Civil War in Saline County, another the pre-history of Native Americans there up through the period of French contact about a century before Lewis and Clark.  What do those sections contribute to a memoir of a farm?


9.  Do you have a favorite or favorites among the nearly forty smaller sections of the book?  What makes it or them stand out?


10.  Is this a representative story or a unique story about life in Missouri?