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A Long Stay in a Distant Land

 Given that Bo’s disappearance is the occurrence Louis is sent to investigate, it is the novel’s best narrative approximation of a Mystery. But in response to Louis’ demand for an explanation of his conduct, Bo musters what Louis can only deem “some fucked-up answer” (181). How is this response a play on the expectation of disclosure? What does it say about metaphysical mystery motives and psychology?

Consider the listed causes of death in the Lum family, from Mirla’s back to Melvin’s. Are there any patterns? What is the function of the “family curse” theory for its believers, in terms of meaning or justice? Is Louis’ belief in the curse shown to be doing him harm or good?

The Table of Contents lists a number of non-narrative elements, as if they are on par with the conventional narrative chapters. Choose either page 134 (“The Vote to Decide…”) or page 177 (“The Genealogy of Bo”) for use in comparing the book’s presentation of information in narrative versus non-narrative forms. Explain how your choice should be read (hint: the inner monologue from Louis that runs from “There was a pause” to “Liberty” {187-8} could shed some light). What commentary is your chosen non-narrative element making about ratiocination or fact?

The Lum family story is punctuated with Asian American history (historically-accurate references to Chinatowns and immigration patterns, to the Life article that further isolated interned Japanese Americans), but in its present day, a number of markers seem to defy easy cultural categorization: e.g., tastes in music, professional tracks. Meanwhile, neither the “mystery” nor the “crime” at the heart of this narrative has a discernible political or racial dimension. Consider that Long Stay may be treating race, ethnicity, or even history as a kind of “myth” that fails to explain. In this postmodernist mystery, is the failure of such explanations something to bemoan or to celebrate, and why?


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