1. Tucumcari begins with the narrator telling readers that he remembers having a wife, but then amends that to “I should say I remember believing I have a wife.” How does this second statement change the first? What might it tell us about the narrator?
2. The narrator is in bed at the beginning of the novel, where he talks about, among other things, traveling. How do the two ideas—moving and not moving—play out in the narrative?
3. What does the use of factual information—or purported factual information—add to the narrator’s credibility?
4. The novel is set in three distinct times: a particular time in the narrator’s past, the present, and a vision of the future. What does inter-weaving these time periods bring to the narrative?
5. How do the mother’s stories reflect/refract the narrator’s memories?
6. The novel is tied together less by a plot than it is by connections made by the narrator, linking one section to the next. In what way do these connections move the narrative forward?
7. How does the narrator’s boyhood influence his actions in the present? How does it predict his future?
8. The narrator’s father was profoundly affected by his military service, particularly his time in New Mexico when the atomic bomb was being built and tested. How do his experiences—both military and non-military affect the narrator’s life?
9. Readers in Ireland and England see Tucumcari as an essentially American novel. If that’s true, what makes it so?