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Paper Ghosts

1. The truth about Carl and the protagonist behind the wheel unfolds with every mile. Did you find yourself rooting for one or the other—or both?

2. In the age of Facebook, Instagram, and smartphone cameras, how much do you think photos lie or tell the truth? Are photographs becoming more important than ever in documenting our culture or do they increasingly present a facade?

3. Do you have a favorite photograph—from a book, a newspaper, or your own photo album—that is stamped in your mind forever? What qualities change a photograph from just a picture to something artistic and timeless?

4. Do you relate personally to any of the issues raised about dementia?

5. After reading this book, do you have a different opinion about the explosive standoff between the Branch Davidians and the government?

6. Heaberlin likes to inject humor into her novels despite their grim subject matter. She likes the comic relief—even for herself as she writes—and thinks that it reflects real life. Do you agree?

7. Have you seen or heard of Marfa’s Mystery Lights? Do you believe they are something otherworldly?

8. Have you visited any of the places on Paper Ghosts’ creepy Texas road trip? If not, after reading this book, where would you want to visit?

9. Do you agree with this quote from Dostoyevsky: “Bad people are to be found everywhere, but even among the worst there may be something good”? If so, name some real-life examples, dead or alive.

10. Along the same lines: How did you feel about Carl, in the end? Are you still deciding?