Questions to Consider
Questions to Consider When Reading Running From The Taxman, A Great American Road Trip
1) Simon has a resume showing he has held responsible jobs that require a detail minded, organized kind of person. What reasons did he list to Maggie for his inability to organize his personal affairs?
2) Simon's financial and filing obligations to the Taxman were overwhelming, so much so that he took drastic measures and disappeared into the American landscape. Did you get the feeling he was running from his problems or towards a solution? What supports your opinion?
3) Maggie took a liking to Simon soon after meeting him, then continued to grow her relationship with him during his seemingly hopeless road trip. What characteristics did Simon have that endeared Maggie to him? Do you take the position he had something going for him or do you think she just made a bad choice in the beginning that ended up being a good choice?
4) Simon latched on to WB and set out for the open road on a whim. Do you think the decision to travel the American Highways with such a dirtbag as WB is a flaw in Simon's ability to judge character in those he meets, or do you think he realized he had few and far between choices available to him when considering the anonymity he needed to cultivate in order to keep the Taxman off his back. Please enlighten other members of your discussion group with your thoughts, and feel free to discuss the actions of dirtbags you have known in the past.
5) In what ways would the friendly old fashioned atmosphere change (and how would this affect the experience of good people who embark on the traditional American Road Trip) in the few remaining diners left on America's highways after the Greedy Bastard Investor from Southern California digs his heels in and takes them over in acts of fraud and deceit from well meaning restaurant owners who actually care?
6) Argue Simon's concept of a Godless Humanity with The Blessed Christian's belief in a humanity governed by Jesus. (Take into consideration that The Blessed Christian never stated his beliefs, just assume he buys into the standard Western Christian belief system). Given only one theory existed, give your thoughts as to whether The Taxman would be paid, if at all, in either reality, and if one reality would afford more adherence to the tax code than the other. Try to be nice to the other members of your discussion group.
7) Simon discourses about the "glue" that holds society together when he makes his case for the relevance of both Atheism and Christianity. Is he on track? Do you agree with his thesis? Where do folks like the Greedy Bastard Investor from Southern California, WB, Lin Yo, and the pool cleaner guy with all the guns and the big Bible in his truck fit in to a bonded society? Are they a necessary negative upon the rest of humanity?
8) Simon seems more enamored with the underlying freedom that is the foundation of the American Dream than he is with the thought of acquiring stuff. Do you think his stress-free approach to financial increase will serve him well in his life, or become a determent at some point? Do you think people who never accomplish much feel better about life knowing that they can if they want to? How does the "American Dream" define not only the American ideals of freedom, but the ideals of freedom around the globe, and how does the existence of the "American Dream" affect politics and lawmaking in all societies?
9) The Tackey Clan is a subject of study for Simon. He delves into the idea of whether art imitates life or life imitates art, using the Tackey's as living proof that sometimes it is neither. Their modesty, shrouded in polyester muumuus and pale blue polyester dinner jackets, along with their fixation on the color white, give reason to the casual onlooker to presume they are members of a right-wing religious cult. Do you
get the impression that the Tackey's are religious? If so, do you see some indication that their beliefs abide in a God, or is it something closer to home, possibly a reverence for themselves?
10) Reading between the lines, can we assume that "Dropped Call Rises," a sculpture by Arturo Hernandez, was a shout-out by the artist that he, a caretaker for decades, had finally stepped out of his position in life as a servant and into the status of the cosmopolitan bourgeoisie?
11) Do you think Agnes Finklehardt overpaid for Simon's piece, Minimal Art, A Study in Absolutely Nothing at All, or is the price one pays for art relevant to the experience one has when in its presence? Do you think paying less for the piece would have made less impact in Agnus's life? Should she have paid more?
12) Can the Ballad of the Middle Class Male, which was performed at the show, "Modern Art of Social Importance," held at Dan and Penny's coffee house, be considered an accurate commentary on UN- nurtured, UN-realized dreams in heterosexual relationships within Western Civilization?
* Is a 1972 Ford Pinto plastered with "Nixon Now" posters covered in 8-Track tape a good representation of the Presidency of Richard M. Nixon? Explain.
* Simon enjoys listening to Elton John's Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters over and over again. The song is about a guy with "Trashcan Dreams" making it in New York City. Simon never speaks of New York City, nor does he even get close to it, as his map at the end of the book plainly details. What is it about this song then, that so intrigues Simon? Do you suppose he relates to Elton's subject and his struggle to achieve? Or has he dubbed this a love song to the new people in his life, Fortuna, Apollo, and Maggie?