1. Milo invented the concept of a "nobodies album" of
nonexistent songs when he was four. What does this phrase
eventually mean for his mother? How do they both use creativity to
address their pain? What recurring threads are woven throughout
Milo's lyrics and Octavia's fiction?
2. As Octavia rewrites the endings of her novels, how does she
rewrite her own memories as well? How does the narrative of losing
Mitch and Rosemary get revised along the way?
3. How did your opinion of Bettina and Chloe shift throughout
the novel? How would you have reacted to Milo's revelation if you
had been in Bettina's shoes? If you had been Chloe, how would you
have handled the news of Milo's upcoming marriage?
4. When Bettina's mother, Kathy, accused Milo of domestic
violence, were you willing to give Milo the benefit of the doubt?
In your opinion, what did the note reading "someone is lying"
5. What makes Roland so attractive to Octavia? How does he
compare to the other men she has known? Was he a good father figure
6. My Only Sunshine is the first novel excerpted in
The Nobodies Album. How does Octavia's fiction compare to
Carolyn Parkhurst's? In what ways does the perspective of an infant
girl enrich the tragic storyline of My Only Sunshine? What
portraits of mothers, fathers, and their children does Parkhurst
provide in varying scenes?
7. Octavia's other novels include Carpathia, in which a
distraught survivor confronts his memories of The Titanic;
Sanguine, whose protagonist is wrongly accused of witchcraft;
Rule of the Chalice, featuring a member of a crime-scene
cleanup team whose child was a victim of brutal crime; and
Crybaby Bridge, Octavia's first published novel, written
soon after the death of Mitch and Rosemary. Which of Octavia's
novels would you most want to read? Was the jacket copy enticing,
capturing the true heart of the novels? How do these storylines
reflect facets of Octavia's own experience?
8. Octavia''s friend Sara Ferdinand has an unusual response when
she first hears the news about Mitch and Rosemary. Do you
think there''s any truth to what she says? Why do you think
that it''s only after this tragedy that Octavia is able to make a
go of her writing career?
9. Two of Octavia's novels are presented in a format that is
different from the others. Why do you suppose she wasn't ready to
write a new ending for Tropospheric Scatter, set in Alaska
and tracing the experience of an adopted child who was rescued from
severe neglect? What was the effect of reading portions of the
unpublished novel Hamelin alongside Octavia's personal
10. Tabloid journalism and online rumor mills represent another
form of storytelling that drives The Nobodies Album. What
does Octavia's experience with the fake online interview indicate
about the changing nature of storytelling in the twenty-first
century and the blurred line between fact and fiction? What is the
significance of the book deal Octavia receives, contingent on her
producing a memoir?
11. How did you respond to the revelations regarding how Mitch
and Rosemary died? Where should the blame lie? Why did the
experience drive Milo and Octavia farther apart, leading eventually
to four years of silence, rather than causing them to appreciate
that they still had each other?
12. Discuss the book's unique structure. What was it like to
read a novel about a novelist-a book within a book? Did you look
forward to getting to the next chapter excerpt, or did it feel like
an interruption from the main story? Did the structure make
you think about the nature of storytelling, and way we recast our
own stories as we work them into the overall narrative of our
13. What do you predict for Lia's future? How will she remember
her mother, and her grandmother?
14. Parkhurst's previous novels, Lost and Found (set on
a reality show) and The Dogs of Babel (in which a grieving
husband hopes that his dog can reveal the truth about how his wife
died), blend mystery with careful scrutiny of her
characters and their relationships. How are Parkhurst's previous
themes amplified in The Nobodies Album?
15. Octavia is a mercurial character. She''s both
egotistical and also her own harshest critic. Did you find
her to be a sympathetic protagonist? Did you like her more or
less as the book went on?
16. Put yourself in Octavia Frost's shoes for a moment: if
you could re-write the ending to The Nobodies Album, what
would it be?
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