Big Cats opens with "Charlotte," in which a young girl with a broken pelvis spies on her voluptuous neighbor during a long, hot summer night, setting the tone of irrepressible curiosity and yearning that is evident throughout the collection. In "Get Away from Me, David," a bank manager tries to overcome his haunted past as he deals with the aftermath of a minor earthquake and the body of a customer who died in the lobby. "Big Cats" pits two teenage girls against each other in an escalating catfight at the zoo where they work, culminating in a blowout in front of the lion cage.
Reading Group Guide
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Big Cats Reading Group Guide Charlotte Why do you think the narrator calls her mother, Bobbie? Is she a good mother? What is beauty to Bobbie and the narrator? Do Mrs. Linkabaugh and her husband reconcile? Why don't we learn the narrator's name? Compare the narrator's sexuality in this story to the narrator's sexuality in the title story, Big Cats. Get Away from Me, David What effect does the narrator's use of capital letters have in the story? Discuss The Woman I Used to Love. Why does David see The Woman I Used to Love and the spirit of John Rivera? Discuss his crush on the security guard, Elizabeth Sabretta. Why does he picture himself in a rabbit suit? Where is David's life going? What do you think happens to David at the end? Big Cats Discuss the nature of Polly and Brenda's friendship. Why does Polly set her summer goal of losing her virginity? Do you think Brenda has the same intention? What is the catalyst of the fight? Will this fight end their friendship? What is the role of the zookeeper in the story? What is Brenda searching for? What does the ending signify? Golden Pioneers The narrator says, "So well meaning and fallible, these two. I'd like to tell you they're meant for each other." Does the narrator feel that they really are? Is this an imagined account of the narrator's conception? How does the narrator's voice work in the story? How does it affect the structure? Why does Bierelane Leonard appear in the story? What is the role of the motelkeeper in the story? Does the narrator forgive her parents? Whose story is this anyway? Fuck You Why does the pregnant woman pick up Sev? Why does she take him home? How do you feel about her smoking and drinking? What can you deduce about state of the pregnant woman's life? How does she feel about her pregnancy? What's Jack like? What significance does setting play in the story? Will Sev come back? What do the narrator and Sev find in each other? My Name What is the significance of Verta saying, "Buck"? How does Van Hoomison react? What kind of person is Van Hoomison? What is his relationship to Verta? Who do you think Buck is? What is Van Hoomison searching for in his life? Why does Van Hoomison bring Verta to the chapel and tell her the story? What does Van Hoomison's story reveal about him? Discuss the ending. What will happen to Van Hoomison now? Good to Hear You Describe the coincidence of the painting in the park. Can you believe the likelihood of the story? Describe the similarities and differences between this story and Golden Pioneers. What can we deduce about the relationship of the narrator and the father? Do you think the conversation at the end continues? What does it reveal about the father? What does the daughter want from the father? Do you think she forgives him? The Heights What is the relationship between Dr. Al, Cass and Natty? Why does Natty launch into the story of Al and her husband's trip to Las Vegas? How does Lizzie feel about this? How do the Klipsch brothers handle the awkward situation? What do you think will happen to Lizzie? How are Lizzie and her mother alike/different? What makes this day unlike any other? By the Time You Get This Is Mary's marriage in trouble? Why has she stopped working? How are she and her husband dealing with what happened to their daughter? How does Lydia feel about what happened? Does she take sides? Does Sabrina really commune with Sarah, or has she just said things that Mary needed to hear? Discuss Paul's role in the story and his significance at the end. Seashell Who is Willie Greene? What does Lonnie think about him? Discuss Lonnie's situation; with the group, her parents, her children. Discuss her conversation with Victoria. Has Victoria let her down? Do you think Willie Green will show up again? What will happen to Lonnie. Discuss the role of God and Christianity in the story. What is Lonnie's relationship to faith? Africa Why is the narrator overcome by Junie and Africa? Describe Junie. Is she happy when she learns she is not pregnant? Why do you think the narrator steals Junie's truck and its cargo? What do you think of her relationship with the narrator? What will happen to the narrator and Junie if Africa lives? What will happen to them if he dies? What is the narrator's relationship to fatherhood? What is the narrator's relationship to Africa, the horse? How does it change over the course of the story? The White Dog Why do you think the woman is obsessed with her pet? What do you think happened between her and her ex-husband? Do the narrator and her ex-husband have anything in common? Discuss the role of being an artist in the story. Do you believe the pet psychic? What is the ex-husband's relationship with Andrine like? How do the narrator and her ex feel about each other? What do you think will happen when the white dog actually dies? Last Seen This story is pieced together from several characters' points of view and in various ways. What do you think happened to Jenny? Why do you think the janitor believes it has something to do with the building? What do the bloody footprints show? Why is the sister so flip? Do you think the coach has any involvement? Does the mother suspect anything? Did Jennifer leave any clues? What is the role of the interviewer in the story? What is the role of the English mystic, Joanna Southcott? Big Cats Questions Why is the collection called Big Cats? Discuss the role of animals in the collection. Describe the collection's relationship to the West Coast. Discuss the settings of time and place in the stories. What do they have in common? How do they differ? Discuss the title of each piece. Which is most suitable, which least? Compare the ideas and aspects of womanhood and sexuality in the collection. Discuss the role of the male characters in general and the absence of fathers in the stories. The relationships of children to their parents? Discuss the endings of the stories. Some seem fantastic. What did you make of this? Does Holiday Reinhorn repeat any themes? How can you distinguish her stories from another writer's? What was your favorite story? What was your least favorite? Why?
Holiday Reinhorn is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop; the recipient of a Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction and a Carl Djerassi Fiction Fellowship from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and a finalist for the PEN/Amazon.com Short Story Award. A nominee for both the Pushcart Prize and the anthology Best New American Voices, she lives in Van Nuys, California. Her stories have appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, Other Voices, Northwest Review, and other literary magazines.
"Holiday Reinhorn is among the very best of a new generation of short story writers. Her work grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let go: tough, deep, hilarious, and heartbreaking, Big Cats is the work of a major talent." -- Dan Chaon, author of the National Book Award fiction finalist Among the Missing and You Remind Me of Me