BKMT READING GUIDES

Perfect Red
by Jennie Nash

Published: 2012-10-29
Paperback : 276 pages
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It's 1952 in New York City -- the height of the Red Scare. When the sheltered secretary of a prominent book editor becomes obsessed with the story of a glamorous French lipstick, she becomes convinced that it was the story she was born to write. To do it, however, she must overcome her belief that ...
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Introduction

It's 1952 in New York City -- the height of the Red Scare. When the sheltered secretary of a prominent book editor becomes obsessed with the story of a glamorous French lipstick, she becomes convinced that it was the story she was born to write. To do it, however, she must overcome her belief that surrendering to passion of any kind is dangerous -- especially when she enters into a high stakes game of kiss and tell with the editor’s star author, who is in desperate need of a story and a muse. They fight for the right to tell the tale, and ultimately, for the right of an author to tell their own truth.

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Excerpt

CHAPTER 1


TJ Wright walked into the office at 10 o’clock in the morning and sat on the edge of my desk. He ripped out a chunk of pages from his little black notebook and slapped them down. “Ten solid pages,” he said, and then he reached over and slid his hand around mine. My skin seemed to sizzle where he touched it. I tried to pull away, but he pressed down with his thumb, putting the tiniest pressure on me to leave my hand where it was. It seemed so intimate and inappropriate, so typical of what a man believed he could do simply because he was a man. I wasn’t going to fall for it, even if he was a famous author. I wanted to be a writer, not a writers’ plaything. I pulled my hand back again, but he squeezed even harder. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Do you recall anything of the McCarthy era from your own life, or from stories you heard older relatives tell?

2. What elements in modern day culture and politics mirror what was happening during the Red Scare?

3. Did you learn to type on a typewriter? If so, which one?

4. Have you ever been haunted by an idea the way Lucy Lawrence was haunted by the story of Perfect Red? If so, what did you do about it and what was the result?

5. Were you ever bullied or humiliated into turning away from a creative pursuit? Consider an elementary school teacher who told you that you couldn’t write, an art class peer who said you couldn’t paint, or a parent who told you to “stop that racket” while you struggled to learn how to play the piano.

6. What is your perfect red lipstick (or your perfect cashmere coat or your perfect little black dress) – and how do you feel when you wear it? Can your appearance transform the way you feel about yourself? Is beauty, then, more than skin deep? 7. Do you believe in an alchemy of desire?

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