Us Conductors: Chapter 10- Part 2 Chapter 4

978-0-345-81332-9The Word On The Street’s Book Club discussion of Us Conductors continues! Check out part one and part two of the conversation.

This week, book club leader Sara has a few questions based on Chapter 10- Part 2 Chapter 4 . Feel free to use these as a jumping-off point for any other thoughts or questions you may have too.

How do you feel about the novel moving into Part 2? Do you find the story and characters compelling at this stage in the narrative?

When Leon returns to Russia, he finds himself in a political climate he no longer understands. Do you think that Leon emphasizes his naive perspective in order to elicit Clara’s (and the reader’s) sympathy? Or, is Leon really as unwitting as he presents himself to be?

What is your reaction to Leon’s journey to Kolyma? Did you find it difficult to read? How does Michaels’ style affect your emotional response?


One thought on “Us Conductors: Chapter 10- Part 2 Chapter 4

  1. My reading is that Leon truly is as unwitting as he appears to be. Throughout this supposed ‘letter’ to Clara, he states that he understands that she will in all likelihood never recieve it. The act of writing it ‘to her’ then is mostly a convention he has adopted in order to help himself stay sane – a way to stay connected to something/someone humane, to a time and place far removed from his current deprived circumstances. Additionally, when he visited Katia earlier in the story, it was made clear that he had not kept in touch with anyone from the USSR – that he had been distancing himself from learning the truth about what was happening to his country under Stalin.

    Part 2 is definitely much harder to read – the conditions Leon endures are very harsh, brutal, monotonous, a far cry from the fun glamour of New York. Additionally, when I learned that his sentence was eight years I wondered whether this grim reality would be all that was left until the end of the novel (if you haven’t read ahead – it isn’t). The pace at which I read the book definitely started to slow down during this section.

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