Dystopia, Delusions and the Man @ BYOB Party in Feb 2019 (Part 4)

Image result for the road cormac mccarthySreeraj talked about the profoundly moving book The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This dystopian post-apocalyptic novel talks about the survival instincts of a father and a son. They walk through the barren landscape of an America that has been ravaged by fire and ash. It is cold and they do not know where they are heading to. All they have is a pistol for self-defense and a map that the man refers to. They go from uninhabited house to house, seeking food and shelter. The son keeps asking for reassurance as they see many gory sights on the way. Sreeraj was especially impressed by the kind of cli-fi words the author used dark, dead, grey, carbon fog, forest fire, ash, snow…The book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was also adapted into a movie.

Most millennials relate to this kind of book as there are many post-apocalyptic series and movies these days. Take Bird Box and other zombie series where the primary themes revolve around people who are foraging and trying their best to survive. Post-apocalyptic situations are also rampant in video games like The Last of Us.

You can listen to Cormac McCarthy talk to Oprah about this lyrical book here.

Image result for y the last man amazonA book this reminded Poonam of was Y: The Last Man comic series by Brian K. Vaughan. The premise of this graphic novel is interesting. A sex-specific plague wipes out the 2.9 billion men on earth, including male animals — every creature with a Y chromosome. Except two.

While the idea of survival is a theme that sells, the reality may be quite boring and not as romantic as writers make it out to be, one of the readers mused. People would have to go back to agriculture and till the land. Another reader observed how human beings are built for survival, so much so that even if they are left to their own devices in a jungle, someone who is unfamiliar with forest terrain will try his best to live and adapt to the ways of the woods. Of course, they could also die in the process. Take the case of the Rapa Nui in Easter Island.

Image result for the god delusionAfter dystopian disillusionment, Aniket brought our attention to The God Delusion, a sensational book of 2006. Richard Dawkins’s theories must be understood in the context of a world where polarities like secularism and fundamentalism draw swords.  The idea of Darwinism is a heavily disputed idea even today. Dawkins views God as an excuse that human beings use to wage war and indulge in abuse. In spite of his infamous twitterfeed, Dawkins book is a seminal work and would interest seekers of knowledge. Watch Dawkins here. Aniket also mentioned having read the book Why am I a Hindu by Shashi Tharoor.

Image result for sapiensMani talked about the popular book of our BYOB Parties – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari. He is still reading the book and is impressed by the author’s multidisciplinary approach. The book seems to be the talking point of all book gatherings today.

More books in Part 5.

Violence, Classics and Nature @ BYOB Party in July 2016 (Part 5)

blood meridianAnshuman got the renowned book Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Unlike McCarthy’s previous books, this one explores violence with gusto. The story revolves around Kid who is part of a mercenary gang who scalps Indians and sells those scalps. The landscape where the gory masterpiece unfolds is the Texas-Mexico borderlands. McCarthy retains the wildness in the Wild West and removes the romanticism of the idea of the Wild West, probably created to reconcile with the goriness of the past..In fact Anshuman felt that it was a parody of the Wild West. McCarthy goes deep into the theme of violence and he pictures redemption through violence like no author can.

the count of monte cristo

Jeeth brought along a classic historical fiction The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, set in France, in the nineteenth century. The story deals with the classic theme of revenge going wrong. Edmund Dantes has been severely wronged and he longs for retribution. But at what cost?  The book has spewed many adaptations on screen and off it.

nature in the cityMeera Iyer got the book Nature in the City by Harini Nagendra. Since we live in Bengaluru, this book is of great relevance to us. We’ve all heard about how beautiful the Garden City once was, but now it’s at the mercy of development and human ambition. Harini Nagendra talks about nature in Bengaluru, something that was once taken for granted but which is now being remembered in its absence. The author effortlessly straddles between history, ecology and sociology of Bengaluru from the seventh century to the present day. She writes about the changing landscape, including its sacred groves, lakes and home gardens. She takes a hitherto unknown look at nature in slums.

Although the author is optimistic about the role of civil society in saving the city, Meera is not completely convinced as the situation requires a radical change of mindset.

More books in Part 5.