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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: Welcome to the future. Biological war has decimated life on Earth. Los Angeles is a windswept ghost town where Robert Neville tools his convertible through sunlit streets foraging for supplies. And makes damn sure he gets undercover before sundown, when other "inhabitants" emerge. The Omega Man adapts Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend into a high-impact, high-tension saga of a fate not far removed from reality. Charlton Heston is Neville, fending off attacks by The Family, sinister neopeople spawned by the plague. He also becomes a man with a mission after meeting Lisa (Rosalind Cash), another unifected survivor - and guardian of some healthy children representing our species' hope. Year: 1971 Sound: ENG, FR; Subtitles: ENG, FR Screen Format: Side A: Standard; Side B: Wiedescreen 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: THE YEAR IS 2035 AND HUMANKIND SUBSISTS IN A DESOLATE NETHERWORLD FOLLOWING AN AIRBORNE VIRAL HOLOCAUST. DESPERATE SCIENTISTS TIME-SHUTTLE A CONVICT, JAMES COLE, TO THE PAST I more...
Amazon Says: THE YEAR IS 2035 AND HUMANKIND SUBSISTS IN A DESOLATE NETHERWORLD FOLLOWING AN AIRBORNE VIRAL HOLOCAUST. DESPERATE SCIENTISTS TIME-SHUTTLE A CONVICT, JAMES COLE, TO THE PAST IN HOPES OF DISCOVERING A MEANS OF SAVING THE FUTURE. WHEN COLE ARRIVES IN 1996, HE'S DEEMED MAD AND PLACED IN AN ASYLUM. 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 lan 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 America's greatest writer of the twentieth century. "As I Lay Dyin more...
Amazon Says: Between 1930 and 1935, William Faulkner came into full possession of the genius and creativity that made him America's greatest writer of the twentieth century. "As I Lay Dying" is a dark comedy, full of horror and compassion, of a rural Mississippi family bearing the corpse of their matriarch to burial in town. "Sanctuary," a violent novel of sex and social class that moves from Mississippi back roads to the flesh-pots of Memphis, features a sadistic gangster named Popeye and a debutante with an affinity for evil. "Light in August," a near-religious vision of the hopeful stubbornness of ordinary life, is perhaps Faulkner's most moving work. "Pylon," a tale of barnstorming aviators, examines the bonds of loyalty and desire among three men and a woman. All are presented in restored texts as part of The Library of America's new, authoritative edition of Faulker's complete works. 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
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Amazon Says: This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death. And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail -- and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man. In 1978 Stephen King published The Stand, the novel that is now considered to be one of his finest works. But as it was first published, The Stand was incomplete, since more than 150,000 words had been cut from the original manuscript. Now Stephen King's apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil has been restored to its entirety. The Stand : The Complete And Uncut Edition includes more than five hundred pages of material previously deleted, along with new material that King added as he reworked the manuscript for a new generation. It gives us new characters and endows familiar ones with new depths. It has a new beginning and a new ending. What emerges is a gripping work with the scope and moral comlexity of a true epic. For hundreds of thousands of fans who read The Stand in its original version and wanted more, this new edition is Stephen King's gift. And those who are reading The Stand for the first time will discover a triumphant and eerily plausible work of the imagination that takes on the issues that will determine our survival. 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 p 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, noctu 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.
YouTube Says: http://www.PeterHeller.net/ "Leave it to Peter Heller to imagine a postapocalyptic world that contains as much loveliness as it does devastation. His hero, Hig, flies a 1956 ...
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