Dale T. Phillips


Dale T. Phillips - Writer

Dale Phillips writer - Writing Info and resources

Book Club Discussion Points for a Memory of Grief

In A Memory of Grief, the first book of the Zack Taylor mystery series, the title and theme refer to a man who becomes unmoored when his friend dies, and an important anchor in his life is suddenly removed. How does Zack cope with this news and a new path in life?

Nathaniel Hawthorne held that the sins of the past (even those of our ancestors) affect us and shadow our lives. Do people feel that the choices of our past determine our future? Can people change their course, break from their background and history, to become someone else, or does the past carry so much weight that it prevents complete escape? Does Zack have a future, or will he succumb to his demons?

People react differently to tragedy. Do you feel it’s better to feel nothing, cultivate an emotional numbness, than to live with the constant pain of powerful feelings? We can see this in patients who have been heavily medicated to the point of smothering their reactions and responses to life.

Is it better to accept events on the surface and remain ignorant of hidden layers of wrongdoing and criminality in society, or to seek understanding, and then be faced with the responsibility of taking action, and guilt if we don’t? Is ignorance bliss, or oblivion?

People who know the dark side of life and have seen terrible things, such as firemen, police, medical personnel, court case workers, criminals, etc. often find it difficult, if not impossible, to fit into normal life, and have easy relationships that many of us take for granted. Substance abuse and even addiction are common. Zack talks about the Night People, those who know darkness and seek out others like themselves, always running on a dangerous track. He feels he is one of them, unable to relate in many ways to the life of people with regular jobs, families, and lives untouched by tragedy. Will he be able to successfully adapt to such a different world?

Zack constantly goes up against dangerous opponents who use firearms, while he does not. Is this a hindrance, or would his problems get easier if he used guns, as so many fictional sleuths do? What changes and adjustments does he have to make in order to survive these encounters with weapon-toting foes?