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The Mother Garden

The Mother Garden


  • reading group guide
Robin Romm's arresting and resonant stories take on the fundamental themes of the human condition: mortality, loyalty, and love. In fresh and irreverent prose, Romm captures the mo-ments before and after loss, mining the depths of grief with wit and grace.

The stories in The Mother Garden are at once vividly realistic and infused with the bizarre -- a man uses a chicken egg to test whether he is ready for fatherhood; a daughter plants a garden of mothers to replace her own; a family's ghosts literally fall through the ceiling, disrupting daily life; a woman finds her father sleeping in the desert after twenty-six years of living without him. People stumble in relationships, start families, struggle with illness, learn to mourn -- and as in life, these acts are consuming, magical, and disorienting.

Sharply funny and deeply moving, this extraordinary collection introduces a young writer of fierce originality and prodigious talent.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 192 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416546429 | 
  • July 2007
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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide – The Mother Garden by Robin Romm


From a young writer of enormous talent comes the extraordinary debut collection, The Mother Garden. Written with humor, uncommon wisdom, and exquisite imagination, these powerful stories take place in the moments before and after loss. Robin Romm weaves together stories of mothers, fathers, lovers, dogs and objects that disappear and reappear, creating a landscape of uncertainty. We see people struggling to keep their feet on the ground as life continues to shift disorientingly about them. Though vividly realistic, these stories are infused with the bizarre – a man uses a chicken egg to test whether or not he is ready for fatherhood; a daughter plants a garden of mothers to replace her own; a deadbeat father is found sleeping in the desert after disappearing for twenty-six years; a young woman forms a strange connection with her dead mother’s beads. Though Romm plumbs the depths of grief, the stores don’t land there – instead they offer a tender and irreverent exploration of life, death, love and the beauty of being alive.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Why do you think the author chose the Amy Hempel quotation for the epigraph? Do the characters in The Mother Garden demonstrate loss of faith and/or faith in loss?
  2. While you were reading, where do you imagine th
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About the Author

Robin Romm
Anne Hayunga

Robin Romm

Robin Romm is the author of the critically acclaimed short story collection, The Mother Garden, which was a finalist for the 2008 PEN USA Fiction Award. Born and raised in Eugene, Oregon, she currently lives in Berkeley, California, and New Mexico, where she is assistant professor of creative writing and literature at the College of Santa Fe.




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