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The Dog Stars Book Cover

Vista Book Group – The Dog Stars

The Vista Book Group met in May to discuss The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. An award winning adventure writer and author of several nonfiction books this is Heller’s first work of fiction. The Dog Stars is a novel about a pilot living in a harsh post-apocalyptic world but there still a sense of beauty and tenderness that underlays the bleakness.

Hig, or Big Hig if you prefer, survived the flu epidemic that killed everyone he knows, including his beloved wife. He lives in a hangar of a small abandoned airport, a few miles from the mountains in what used to be Colorado with his dog, Jasper, and his only neighbor, Bangley, a misanthropic, gun wielding survivalist. Hig flies his 1956 Cessna to reconnoiter the perimeter, to find supplies where he can, to help the families dying of the blood disease, and one might even say to search for hope.

The writing style is spare and often fragmented, but somehow it is a fitting way to tell this story. And although the writing style is somewhat terse it is nonetheless beautiful. We all liked The Dog Stars and the book made for a great discussion. If your book group is looking for a compelling read then you might want to give The Dog Stars a chance.

Some read-a-likes and watch-a-likes we came up with include:

I am Legend by Richard Matheson

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl (nonfiction)

The Stand by Stephen King

The World Without Us (nonfiction)

Iron Council by China Miéville

World War Z by Max Brooks

I am Legend (DVD)

The Road (DVD

Omega Man (DVD)

Melancholia (DVD)

Twelve Monkeys (DVD)

Please join us on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 in Film and Sound at Richland Library Main when we will discuss Wild : From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. We look forward to seeing you there.


Amazon Says: Robert Neville is a brilliant scientist, but even he could not contain the terrible virus that was unstoppable, incurable, and man-made. Somehow immune, Neville is now the las more...
Amazon Says: Robert Neville is a brilliant scientist, but even he could not contain the terrible virus that was unstoppable, incurable, and man-made. Somehow immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City and maybe the world. For three years, Neville has faithfully sent out daily radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. But he is not alone. Mutant victims of the plague -- The Infected -- lurk in the shadows... watching Neville's every move... waiting for him to make a fatal mistake. Perhaps mankind's last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood. But he knows he is outnumbered... and quickly running out of time. less...
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Amazon Says: From Cormac McCarthy, author of “No Country For Old Men,” comes the highly anticipated big screen adaptation of the beloved, best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, more...
Amazon Says: From Cormac McCarthy, author of “No Country For Old Men,” comes the highly anticipated big screen adaptation of the beloved, best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Road. Academy Award®-nominee Viggo Mortensen (Best Actor, Eastern Promises, 2007) leads an all-star cast featuring Academy Award® winners Charlize Theron (Best Actress, Monster, 2003) and Robert Duvall (Best Actor, Tender Mercies, 1983), Guy Pearce and young newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee in this epic post-apocalyptic tale of the survival of a father (Mortensen) and his young son (Smit-McPhee) as they journey across a barren America that was destroyed by a mysterious cataclysm. A masterpiece adventure, The Road boldly imagines a future in which men are pushed to the worst and the best that they are capable of – a future in which a father and his son are sustained by love. less...
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Amazon Says: Omega Man, The (DVD)Charlton Heston stars as a scientist who believes he is the only human to survive a worldwide bacteriological war unharmed as he attempts to save humanity more...
Amazon Says: Omega Man, The (DVD)Charlton Heston stars as a scientist who believes he is the only human to survive a worldwide bacteriological war unharmed as he attempts to save humanity by developing a curative serum from his own blood in this frightening vision of a post-apocalyptic near future.]]> less...
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Amazon Says: Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) celebrate their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of Justine's sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brot more...
Amazon Says: Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) celebrate their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of Justine's sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brother-in-law John (Kiefer Sutherland). Despite Claire's best efforts, the wedding is a fiasco with family tensions mounting and relationships fraying. Meanwhile, a planet called Melancholia is heading directly towards Earth threatening the very existence of humankind... less...
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Amazon Says: In this science fiction masterpiece, Cole (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time to save the human race from a deadly virus that has forced mankind into dank underground communit more...
Amazon Says: In this science fiction masterpiece, Cole (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time to save the human race from a deadly virus that has forced mankind into dank underground communities in the future. Along his travels, he encounters a psychiatrist (Madeleine Stowe) and a mental patient, brilliantly portrayed by Brad Pitt, who may hold the key to the mysterious rogue group, The Army of the 12 Monkeys, thought to be responsible for unleashing the killer disease. Believing he can obtain a pure virus sample in order to find a cure in the future, he is met with one riddle after another that puts him in a race for time. less...
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The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Amazon Says: A searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece. A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged land more...
Amazon Says: A searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece. A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other. The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation. less...
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Amazon Says: Between 1930 and 1935, William Faulkner came into full possession of the genius and creativity that made him one of America’s finest writers of the twentieth century. The fo more...
Amazon Says: Between 1930 and 1935, William Faulkner came into full possession of the genius and creativity that made him one of America’s finest writers of the twentieth century. The four novels in this Library of America collection display an astonishing range of characters and treatments in his Depression-era fiction. As I Lay Dying (1930) is a combination of comedy, horror, and compassion, a narrative woven from the inarticulate desires of a peasant family in conflict. It presents the conscious, unconscious, and sometimes hallucinatory impressions of the husband, daughter, and four sons of Addie Bundren, the long-suffering matriarch of her rural Mississippi clan, as the family marches her body through fire and flood to its grave in town. Sanctuary (1931) is a novel of sex and social class, of collapsed gentility and amoral justice, that moves from the back roads of Mississippi and the fleshpots of Memphis to the courthouse of Jefferson and the appalling spectacle of popular vengeance. With its fascinating portraits of Popeye, a sadistic gangster and rapist, and Temple Drake, a debutante with an affinity for evil, it offers a horrific and sometimes comically macabre vision of modern life. Light in August (1932) incorporates Faulkner’s religious vision of the hopeful stubbornness of ordinary life. The guileless Lena Grove, in search of the father of her unborn child; the disgraced minister Gail Hightower, who dreams of Confederate cavalry charges; Byron Bunch, who thought working Saturdays would keep a man out of trouble, and the desperate, enigmatic Joe Christmas, consumed by his mixed ancestry—all find their lives entangled in the inexorable succession of love, birth, and death. Pylon (1935), a tale of barnstorming aviators in the carnival atmosphere of an air show in a southern city, examines the bonds of desire and loyalty among three men and a woman, all characters without a past. Dramatizing what, in accepting his Nobel Prize, Faulkner called “the human heart in conflict with itself,” it illustrates how he became one of the great humanists of twentieth-century literature. The Library of America edition of Faulkner’s work publishes, for the first time, new, corrected texts of these four works. Manuscripts, typescripts, galleys, and published editions have been collated to produce versions that are free of the changes introduced by the original editors and that are faithful to Faulkner’s intentions. less...
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Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Amazon Says: Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 a more...
Amazon Says: Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl's theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning")-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful. At the time of Frankl's death in 1997, Man's Search for Meaning had sold more than 10 million copies in twenty-four languages. A 1991 reader survey for the Library of Congress that asked readers to name a "book that made a difference in your life" found Man's Search for Meaning among the ten most influential books in America. Beacon Press, the original English-language publisher of Man's Search for Meaning, is issuing this new paperback edition with a new Foreword, biographical Afterword, jacket, price, and classroom materials to reach new generations of readers. less...
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The Stand by Stephen King
Amazon Says: FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY. A monumentally devastating plague leaves only a few survivors who, in a desert world, experience dreams of good and evil in confrontatio more...
Amazon Says: FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY. A monumentally devastating plague leaves only a few survivors who, in a desert world, experience dreams of good and evil in confrontation and, through their choices, move toward an actual confrontation. less...
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Iron Council by China Mieville
Amazon Says: Following Perdido Street Station and The Scar, acclaimed author China Miéville returns with his hugely anticipated Del Rey hardcover debut. With a fresh and fantastical band more...
Amazon Says: Following Perdido Street Station and The Scar, acclaimed author China Miéville returns with his hugely anticipated Del Rey hardcover debut. With a fresh and fantastical band of characters, he carries us back to the decadent squalor of New Crobuzon—this time, decades later. It is a time of wars and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and rioting on the streets at home are pushing the teeming city to the brink. A mysterious masked figure spurs strange rebellion, while treachery and violence incubate in unexpected places. In desperation, a small group of renegades escapes from the city and crosses strange and alien continents in the search for a lost hope. In the blood and violence of New Crobuzon’s most dangerous hour, there are whispers. It is the time of the iron council. . . . The bold originality that broke Miéville out as a new force of the genre is here once more in Iron Council: the voluminous, lyrical novel that is destined to seal his reputation as perhaps the edgiest mythmaker of the day. less...
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The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
Amazon Says: A penetrating, page-turning tour of a post-human Earth In The World Without Us, Alan Weisman offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity's impact on the plane more...
Amazon Says: A penetrating, page-turning tour of a post-human Earth In The World Without Us, Alan Weisman offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity's impact on the planet: he asks us to envision our Earth, without us.In this far-reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; which everyday items may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe. The World Without Us reveals how, just days after humans disappear, floods in New York's subways would start eroding the city's foundations, and how, as the world's cities crumble, asphalt jungles would give way to real ones. It describes the distinct ways that organic and chemically treated farms would revert to wild, how billions more birds would flourish, and how cockroaches in unheated cities would perish without us. Drawing on the expertise of engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, zoologists, oil refiners, marine biologists, astrophysicists, religious leaders from rabbis to the Dali Lama, and paleontologists---who describe a prehuman world inhabited by megafauna like giant sloths that stood taller than mammoths---Weisman illustrates what the planet might be like today, if not for us. From places already devoid of humans (a last fragment of primeval European forest; the Korean DMZ; Chernobyl), Weisman reveals Earth's tremendous capacity for self-healing. As he shows which human devastations are indelible, and which examples of our highest art and culture would endure longest, Weisman's narrative ultimately drives toward a radical but persuasive solution that needn't depend on our demise. It is narrative nonfiction at its finest, and in posing an irresistible concept with both gravity and a highly readable touch, it looks deeply at our effects on the planet in a way that no other book has. less...
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I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Amazon Says: Robert Neville may well be the last living man on Earth . . . but he is not alone.An incurable plague has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirsty, nocturna more...
Amazon Says: Robert Neville may well be the last living man on Earth . . . but he is not alone.An incurable plague has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creatures who are determined to destroy him.By day, he is a hunter, stalking the infected monstrosities through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn.... less...
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The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (book trailer)
Chantal W. Says: Book Trailer for The Dog Stars. A man and his dog in a postapocalyptic world.
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