Unformed Landscape Buy from other retailers

Publication Date: Apr 17, 2006

168 pp

Hardcover

List Price US: $18.00

ISBN: 978-1-59051-140-4

Trim Size: 5.40 x 7.75 x 0.75 in.

Paperback

List Price US: $18.95

ISBN: 978-1-59051-226-5

Trim Size: 4.98 x 7.00 x 0.38 in.

Ebook

List Price US: $9.99

ISBN: 978-1-59051-408-5

Unformed Landscape

A Novel

by Peter Stamm Translated by Michael Hoffman

1. Katherine already has one failed marriage behind her when she accepts Thomas’ marriage proposal, despite the fact that she does not love him. Why does she agree to marry him? Why does Katherine seem to fall into marriage without giving it much thought?

2. What role does the setting of isolated, coastal Finnmark play in Katherine’s identity and heritage?

3. Stamm introduces a motif of technology, such as the internet homepage that Christian shows Katherine and Katherine’s incessant email checks. Can technology fill a void of isolation or does it just widen the gap between two people?

4. Compare and contrast Helge, Thomas, Christian and Morten. What attracts Katherine to each of them?

5. Katherine’s second husband Thomas lives in a fictive world where he fabricates stories of grand achievement. When Katherine finds him sitting alone in his family’s hut after claiming he was on his nightly jog, she wishes he had been cheating on her instead. What do you think of her reaction? Why do you think Thomas is unable to communicate with his wife?

6. Why does Katherine force a physical relationship with Christian? Does she seek comfort out of necessity or true affection? Did you expect such careless treatment from him?

7. Maternal love does not come naturally to Katherine. What was your reaction to Katherine’s revelation that she views Randy in the irredeemable image of his incapable father Helge? What accounts for Katherine’s shift in her view of Randy upon her return from the Norwegian ski trip?

8. Examine Katherine’s ski trip to Norway with her new friends. Why do you think Linn takes an interest in Katherine? What does Stamm show the reader about the nature of female friendship?

9. What does the title Unformed Landscape refer to? What would you re-name the second chapter of Katherine’s life after reading the ending?

10. Social clashing exists with the juxtaposition of Katherine’s family and Thomas’s family. Discuss the scenes in which the two families collide, culminating with Randy’s birthday party.

11. In what ways does the sea becomes a character of its own, providing both sorrow and connection in Katherine’s life?

12. Stamm style is a fluid, sparse progressions of words. For instance, the narrator states, "Katherine had married Helge, she had had a child, she had divorced Helge." What effect does this diction have on the overall story? What does the language reflect?