Group Reading Guide Eat the Document
Dana Spiotta If you want to change your life, first change your name
In the heyday of the 1970s underground, Mary Whittaker and Bobby DeSoto were the quintessential political activists -- in love with each other and their cause. But when a radical protest against the Vietnam War ended in tragedy, they vowed to never see each other again and start anew by changing their names and identities.
Now a fugitive on-the-run, Mary keeps the truth, and the authorities, at bay by altering her image, dying her hair, and never staying too long in one place. Mary reinvents herself as Caroline Sherman, and then takes the name (and social security number) of a dead infant named Louise Barrot. It's now the 1990s, and "Louise" lives with her teenage son Jason in the suburbs of Seattle -- a son she hardly knows but who revels in the music of her day. Jason becomes suspect of his mother's strange ways, and with the power of technology, he puts together the pieces of her secret past.
Shifting between the protests in the 1970s and the consequences of those choices in the 1990s, Eat the Document
is an unflinching examination of the polarities -- from rebellion and subculture to advertising and trends -- that can define a generation. Questions for Discussion
- One of the prominent themes in Eat the Document is that of identity. For Mary Whit