Melvyn Chase
      Readers Guide
      “The McKenzie Harvest”
      1. When Katherine McKenzie meets Bradley Munson, he asserts that “Rules don’t matter....Breaking them matters.” Katherine responds, “Don’t you have to know them before you break them?” Whose rules has Katherine followed in shaping her artistic and emotional life? How have those rules affected the choices she has made?
      2. “Listening”—to music but, more important, to what other people say—is a key element of the story. How is Katherine influenced by listening to her mother? To Amos Greene in Boston—and, later, when he writes to her? To her mentor Simon Levin? To her brother Duncan, and sister Jean Anne? And, of course, to Bradley?
      3. Before Katherine and Bradley make love that first time, she pointedly tells him she is not in love with him. Why does she want him to know that? And later, “when the pleasure washed over her, it wasn’t about Jeremy or Bradley. She felt that the pleasure was hers, and hers alone.” Why is it important for her to feel that way? How does that moment contrast with the last night she spent with Jeremy?
      4. When we first meet Katherine, she is dominated by fear. She is a talented concert pianist afraid of audiences, a young woman afraid of her own sexuality, a farm girl afraid of the place where she grew up. By the time she decides to return to Boston, has she resolved some of her fears?
      5. She invites Bradley to join her in an effort to promote his music. Do you think he will follow her?
      6. Contrast Katherine’s attitude toward religion with Duncan’s beliefs. What was her mother’s attitude toward religion? Why do you think her mother felt that way?
      7. Does Katherine finally accept Kansas as her home?
      “The Food of Love” and “The Legend of Jean-Paul LeBeau”
      1. Compare and contrast the personality and character of three musical virtuosos: Katherine McKenzie, Maximilian Solange and Jean-Paul LeBeau.
      2. Music plays a significant role in “:The McKenzie Harvest,” “The Food of Love” and “The Legend of Jean-Paul LeBeau.” Discuss the role of music in each of these stories.
      3. Who is the composer of “The Food of Love” and why did she create that piece of music?
      4. Why is music such an important element in the religious services of so many faiths?
      “The Messenger”
      1. Why is the narrator of the story so unhappy?
      2. How does the narrator view his relationship to God?
      3. Why did Joshua Daniels write the letter to Mrs. Anderson?
      4. How does Joshua view his relationship to God?
      5. What is his message? Has anyone heard it?
      “The Boarding House”
      1. Who is Adler and why is he in the boarding house? Who is the landlord?
      2. Why is Adler mute? Weak? Impotent?
      3. Did the prospect of an afterlife affect the way Adler behaved?
      “Goldman the Jeweler”
      1. Discuss Goldman the Jeweler’s moral code and how it affects his family, his employees, and his business practices.
      2. Who has a motive to kill Goldman? The opportunity? The means? Based on the evidence at the crime scene, who do you think is the murderer?
      3. What happened to Goldman’s stash of cash? What will happen to his “off-the-books” jewelry?
      4. Will his killer be caught?
      “Final Arrangements”
      1. A question for discussion: Is Abel Pritchard a success or a failure—in business—in his emotional life?
      2. Why does Abel feel the need to “revisit” the people who mattered most to him—the people he loved?
      3. Do you think he finds peace?
      “Mary Anne”
      1. Do the Wife’s memories suggest that the couple loved each other and had a happy marriage?
      2. What does the Husband remember about his children? His job? His parents and his brother?
      3. What is the Husband’s attitude toward death?
      4. Why does the Wife urge the Husband to remember?
      “The Food of Love and Other Tales of Lovers, Dreamers and Schemers”
      1. What is the effect of this collection as a whole—the order, the contrasting styles and formats, the settings, the characters?
      2. Compare the endings of several of these tales. Are problems solved, issues resolved? Or are there still questions to be answered, actions to be taken?
      3. Compare the way “love” is portrayed in these stories—love between man and wife, parental love, love of power, love of art, love of pleasure, love of God.
      4. Considering the collection as a whole, what is the author’s view of love? Of life? Of God?