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Southwest Book Club Online February Discussion Questions

orchidthief.jpgThe Southwest Book Club will be meeting on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 7:00 P.M. to discuss the book, The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. A staff writer for The New Yorker describes the life and times of John Laroche, a plant smuggler and orchid thief, and the eccentric world of Florida's obsessed collectors of rare plants.

For those unable to attend the meeting or those who would like join our discussion online, each month questions will be posted prior to the book discussion date. Simply click "Comments" located at the bottom of this post. Share your thoughts and comments, then click "post". Comment on one question or all of them. Join the discussion!

Discussion Questions: The Orchid Thief
1. The passion for collecting is described in the book as a means of infusing meaning into life, aquiring the ability to mold and change the nature of things, i.e. create life itself. What other means do humans employ to achieve the same ends, and how effective are they?

2. Laroche wrestles verbally with the thought that acting within what he considered the bounds of the law for his own immediate gain was ultimately an act of altrulism. Is his thought process that of an amoral person? Or is he just an everyday charlatan?

3. Orlean interrupts her central narrative of John Laroche with stories of the orchid hunters of the past, the contemporary state of Florida and other histories. How does this affect the pace of the work? Is the framework she devised successful?

4. As a reader, what did you expect from a book about orchids? How did your experience of reading The Orchid Thief compare to what you expected?

5. Orlean comments she lacks the kind of passion possessed by Laroche and other plant collectors mentioned in the book. Do you think she was passionate about her reporting and writing this book?

(Questions were either obtained or adapted from http://readingguides.com/guides_O/orchid_thief1.asp)

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