E. Annie Proulx’s Accordion Crimes is a masterpiece of storytelling that spans a century and a continent. Proulx brings the immigrant experience in America to life through the eyes of the descendants of Mexicans, Poles, Africans, Irish-Scots, Franco-Canadians and many others, all linked by their successive ownership of a simple green accordion. The music they make is their last link with the past—voice for their fantasies, sorrows and exuberance. Proulx’s prodigious knowledge, unforgettable characters and radiant language make Accordion Crimes a stunning novel, exhilarating in its scope and originality.
Reading Group Guide
By Annie Proulx
Reading Group Discussion Guide
1. Describe the maker of the green, two-row button accordion that gets transferred from character to character over the course of a century in Accordion Crimes. What does he hope to do with accordions in America, and how does his dream get interrupted?
2. Who are the three Germans-Beutle, Messermacher, and Loats-who settle the town of Prank, and why are they loved and loathed by their community? How are they affected by anti-German sentiment? Compare their experiences as European immigrants to the Midwest to the prejudices encountered by the Sicilian accordion maker in New Orleans.
3. How is Abelardo Relampago Salazar defined by his accordion? When he tells his daughter, Felida: "A woman cannot play the accordion. It is a man's instrument," what does he mean? Why does Abelardo conceal the thousand-dollar bills inside his instrument, and what is significant about the manner in which he earns them?
4. "He wanted to play that music, music that belonged to him by blood inheritance, but could not learn it because he didn't speak French." What is ironic about Dolor Gagnon's inability to speak French? What does his trip to Quebec to hear the old accordion music help him to understand about himself? How does he embody alienation from one's ethnic heritage?
5. How does the green accordion find its way to the Malefoots? Describe the atmosphere in the home of th see more