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Reading Group Guide for The Love-talkers by Gail Wronsky

The Love-talkers

Author:  Gail Wronsky

Publisher:   Hollyridge Press, 2001


Available in:
Hardcover, 140 pages. $23.95
(ISBN 0-9676003-3-2)

Genre:   Fiction


“The language of love is many languages”—and poet Gail Wronsky speaks them all in her first novel, The Love-talkers. Narrated by a mystical woman of European background, this is the story of two American couples who arrive in Mexico City to explore the ancient culture in the hopes of changing their lives. In a bookshop, the younger of the two pairs comes across a text of unknown authorship and are instantly drawn into the spell of the onionskin, leather-bound pages. Part instruction manual, part good luck charm, The Love-talkers, with its erotic prose and amorous illustrations, imparts the tale of a man and woman wildly, miraculously in love. The book has the power to turn immortal longing into sexual reality. Everyone who touches the book is altered by it, sexually awakened, their life-forces renewed.  The beauty of Gail Wronsky's poetic language has never been better displayed than in The Love-talkers. She writes with a flame that whispers have ignited. Mexico City, with its parks and cathedrals and archeological riches, provides a lush backdrop for the story. The book is sumptuously rendered and celebrates passionate imagination with all the sublime joy of physical love. Wronsky's elegiac style summons up the magic of Latin American fiction in this novel of desire which brings us into the depths of erotic charge. From ecstatic awakenings to feverish enactments of appetite, Wronsky's novel reveals what happens when we find our deepest yearnings made true.

 Recommended by 

David St. John, author of  The Red Leaves of Night
“Take this remarkable book into your own life; you will be dazzled and amazed.”

 Author Biography 

GAIL WRONSKY is the author of two books of poetry, Dying for Beauty and Again the Gemini are in the Orchard. Her poems and critical essays have appeared in Antioch Review, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, Boston Review , Virginia Quarterly Review and other journals. She is the recipient of an Artists Fellowship from the California Arts Council, and lives in Topanga, California with her husband and daughter. She is a professor in the English Department at Loyola Marymount University.

 Topics to Consider 

  1. What are the characters David and Ellina, the Professors, looking for in Mexico, and do they find it? Why is Mexico fascinating to them?
  2. How does Marguerite Duse, the narrator, resemble mystical or magical characters you've encountered in other contexts, for example, wise women or medicine women or the gods and goddesses of classical literature?
  3. Why does Felix identify more with Aztec culture than with contemporary Mexican culture?
  4. Why is Ellina drawn to Franz?
  5. Besides David and Evangelina, what other potential couplings does the book suggest?
  6. Why is the Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, so central a metaphor or motif in this book?
  7. Discuss the meaning of the phrase, “Everything that loves is holy.”
  8. Most “erotic” books have more actual sex acts in them, and kinkier sex acts in them, than this book does. What is different about the eroticism offered here? Where does most of it take place?
  9. Do Lara and Paul experience religious epiphanies in the church they visit in Cholula? If so, what is the lasting effect these epiphanies will have on them?
  10. Do you think books can move mountains?

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