A book that is both funny and sad - about a love one middle-aged, isolated man has for his dog. Lily and the Octopus
By Steven Rowley- #fiction, #reading, #books to read, #books

Lily and the Octopus

By Steven Rowley


Critical Praise:

“Lily and the Octopus is the dog book you must read this summer…. Reading this heart-wrenching but ultimately breathtaking novel was a very profound experience…. As Lily might say, ‘YOU! MUST! READ! THIS! BOOK!’” —The Washington Post

“Startlingly imaginative...‘Lily and the Octopus’ is a love story sure to assert its place in the canine lit pack...Be prepared for outright laughs and searing or silly moments of canine and human recognition. And grab a tissue: THERE! WILL! BE! EYE! RAIN!” —Newsday

“Sensitive, hilarious, and emotionally rewarding.... The intimacy of pet ownership is sweetly suffused throughout this heartwarming autobiographical fiction... In generous helpings of bittersweet humanity, Rowley has written an immensely poignant and touchingly relatable tale that readers (particularly animal lovers) will love.” —Publishers Weekly

“Steven Rowley’s touching, fresh, energetic novel isn’t simply another ‘boy and his dog’ story. It is a profound exploration of grief—how we find ourselves lost, how we search for reason, how we sacrifice ourselves for our loved ones, all to avoid paying the octopus. But the octopus will be paid. And in settling that debt, in the magical, hopeful world of Lily and the Octopus, we will learn to live—and love—again. A wonderfully moving story.” —Garth Stein, bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
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*Discussion Questions



1. Ted agonizes over the fact that Lily’s octopus has gone unnoticed by both of them for so long. Discuss how he internalizes his grief, transforming it into guilt. How would you react in his shoes?

2. The book is divided into eight sections, each with an octopus-related theme. What other octopus imagery and symbolism did you find in the book?

3. Ted hates “living in the not knowing” (p. 31). How does this aversion to uncertainty affect his personal relationships? Do you think this attitude changes over the course of the novel?

4. There is a level of trust shared between Ted and Lily that does not seem to extend to the humans in his life. Discuss how trust requires a kind of courage that humans find difficult to muster. Is it possible to replicate the unconditional love of a dog? Why or why not?

5. Ted notes that Lily has been the closest witness to his life. Discuss why this is clarifying for him. How can new perspectives become powerful?

6. Throughout the novel, we learn that omens can be just as bad as they are good. What happens when Ted goes looking for more omens? Where do they lead him?

7. What role does forgiveness play in this novel? Who does Ted ultimately make peace with, and at what point?

8. Lily admits that she has not held onto a single bad memory. In fact, she does not have many memories at all. Still, she adores Ted’s stories. Discuss how memories can become their own forms of storytelling. What does Ted learn from distilling their shared history?

9. The vet has warned Ted that as she gets older, Lily may start to encounter Enclosed World Syndrome. How is this syndrome mirrored in Ted’s own life? Do you recognize the phenomenon?

10. Ted catches a glimpse of himself in the glass door by the pool and recognizes the octopus. Discuss the meaning of this scene. Why do you think this conflation of identity occurs in his mind’s eye?

11. The tattoo artist, Kal, claims to enjoy the permanence of his work. Ted is skeptical that permanence even exists. Did you see anything in the novel that you felt to be permanent? If so, what was it?

12. One idea that Ted is partial to is karma. Karma implies a sense of causality and order to the universe. Do you think that his opinion evolves as Lily gets sicker?

13. Discuss the scene in which Ted finally acknowledges that the octopus is, in fact, a tumor. What has changed? Did he kill the octopus? What is the significance of this semantic twist?

14. Lily loves her red ball. Ted even goes so far as to suggest that hers is not a life without it. Discuss the symbolism of the ball, especially in Ted’s dream when he loses Lily in a storm of them.

15. What does Ted see in Byron? Do you see a happy future for the two of them?

(Discussion Questions by Publisher)


Book Summary
A national bestseller combining the emotional depth of The Art of Racing in the Rain with the magical spirit of The Life of Pi, “Lily and the Octopus is the dog book you must read this summer” (The Washington Post).

Ted—a gay, single, struggling writer is stuck: unable to open himself up to intimacy except through the steadfast companionship of Lily, his elderly dachshund. When Lily’s health is compromised, Ted vows to save her by any means necessary. By turns hilarious and poignant, an adventure with spins into magic realism and beautifully evoked truths of loss and longing, Lily and the Octopus reminds us how it feels to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go, and how the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all.

Introducing a dazzling and completely original new voice in fiction and an unforgettable hound that will break your heart—and put it back together again. Remember the last book you told someone they had to read? Lily and the Octopus is the next one. “Startlingly imaginative...this love story is sure to assert its place in the canine lit pack...Be prepared for outright laughs and searing or silly moments of canine and human recognition. And grab a tissue: “THERE! WILL! BE! EYE! RAIN!” (New York Newsday).
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