4 x 4

4X4 by Wayne Tefs

4 x 4

When a snowstorm cancels Clint Dokic’s flight to Thompson where his pregnant wife Kaly waits, Clint forces his mother and brother into an ill-advised road trip. The blizzard outside is nothing compared to the storm brewing within the 4 x 4.

A blizzard grounds the plane real-estate agent Clint Dokic is supposed to take from Winnipeg to Thompson where his very-pregnant wife Kaly waits. Undeterred, he forces his mother, Meg, and younger brother, over-educated, under-achieving Darryl, to join him on an ill-advised road trip in Darryl's 4 x 4.

The path to Thompson is expected to be long and treacherous, with blowing snow and icy roads. What the three Dokic's don't see coming is the journey they have to take within the vehicle. Each harbouring secrets that might destroy the others if known, the trio battle the elements, each other, and their own demons to arrive at a destination they aren't so sure they want to reach.

Book Club Questions
  1. 4X4 is told from the revolving points of view of its four main characters. What is gained by this device? What are the risks of using this device?
  2. There's quite a bit of rough language in the novel: does it serve a purpose?
  3. In the novels of Thomas Hardy there are often minor coincidences that have major effects on the lives of the characters. Hardy called these minor events "satires of circumstance." What role do such "satires of circumstance" play in 4X4?
  4. Which of the two brothers do you like better at the outset of the novel?
  5. 4X4 occurs on Good Friday—what significance does this have to the plot of the novel?
  6. One reviewer referred to the events in 4X4 as "the road trip from hell." What do you think was meant by that?
  7. Another reviewer noted that the Dokic family has their share of secrets, and that "these subterranean issues affect the relationships on the surface." What are the secrets and how do they color the relations among the characters?
  8. Toward the end of the novel Darryl says that life is a puzzle that doesn’t always add up? Is this true in the novel? Is it true in life in general?
  9. Do you like the boys' mother, Meg? In what ways is she a sympathetic character? In what ways might you judge her—in what ways does she judge herself?
  10. Jimmy Dokic, the father, plays an important role in the novel, but he is not given a voice, as are the other characters. Why do you think that is?
  11. Over the course of the day that the 4X4 travels from Winnipeg to Thompson there are a number of violent occurrences. How do they contribute to the portraits of the characters and the development of the plot of the novel?
  12. Natives are given quite a bit of treatment in the novel. Are they treated fairly by the other characters? By the author?
  13. Which of the two brothers do you like better as the novel comes toward its conclusion?
  14. One commentator has said that Jimmy Dokic becomes a sympathetic character by the novel's conclusion—do you agree?
  15. Another commentator has said that "the journey north is a metaphor for the story of the Dokices." In what ways is this true?
  16. Darryl has a fantasy about living in Australia—how does it evolve over the course of the novel?
  17. At one point in 4X4 the characters discuss whether or not Canada is a "great country." What is each of their points of view? With whom do you side most?
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