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The Yoga of Max's Discontent
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The Yoga of Max's Discontent > Yoga of Max's Discontent: First third of book

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Meryl Landau (meryldavidslandau) | 808 comments Mod
Hi yoga folks!

I hope everyone is enjoying The Yoga of Max's Discontent as much as I am.

This discussion covers the first third of the book (to chapter 12)--or when Max first sets out to Ramakrishna's ashram. Please do not give away anything beyond that in this thread.

You'll note that the questions below include a mix of plot/character discussions and things the book triggers about our own lives--which means you should feel free to jump into the discussion even if you are not reading the book.

I do like this to be a discussion, so if you post here I invite you to please check back periodically to add to the discussion and reflect off other people's insights the entire month of August. And even if we've moved on to another thread, if you're getting a later start feel free to keep posting here.

Prompts to begin the discussion are below. As always, ignore any that doesn't speak to you, or ignore them all and just riff.

Prompts for the second third of the book should be posted within a week (since that's when I should be at that point lol).

1) Max comes from a family living in a housing project, with friends involved with drugs and shootings. Do you like that plot angle? Do you find his history realistic?

2) It's at his Wall Street job that Max first realizes he can't keep living as he is--that there has to be more. Is this feeling something you can relate to? Did you, too, quit the job? What did you do about it in your own life?

3) Max is also dealing with his mother's death. How do you think that affects his quest?

4) Once in India, Max decides to climb the high Himalayas without a plan or a guide, and nearly dies in the process. Did you understand his rationale, or think he's a moron? Have you ever done something really impulsive or risky? How did it turn out?

5) The falafel man/yogi's mantra, which inspires Max, is "I want to see the unborn, un-aging, un-ailing, sorrowless, and death-less face to face." What does this mean to you?

6) Instead of sending him on to the doctor, Anand gives Max a little test, then sends him to Ramakrishna's ashram. Even getting there is an ordeal! (I love the description: train 60 hours, bus 12 hours, then several hikes.) Why do you think Anand got involved with Max and offered this recommendation? What do you expect Max will find there?

7) How are you liking the book so far? Favorite part? Least favorite part?

message 2: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa (strangeproblem) | 18 comments I'm slowly getting through this book so I'm also slow to post here. I should give some thought to what I want to say but instead, you're going to get off the cuff thoughts with no guarantee as to quality. But here it goes, because I'm just starting Chapter 13.

1) I can imagine someone from the "projects" pulling themselves up and improving theirl lives. What I thought was pretty random was that he's Greek? Am I remember correctly? So far I find the character himself pretty flat with no real depth. He seems to have let a charmed life already.

2) His akward work exchange with his "boss" was, well, awkward. Truthfully I didn't quite understand what spurred him in to signing his apartment over to his wheelchair bound friend. I guess he just walked away from his life. I just can't relate without knowing more about him, has he always done things like this or is the completely out of character. Does he actually have any character?

3) I think he's totally running away from him mothers death, and how he dealt with her illness. And he's being completely insensitve to his sisters' experience. He's annoying and self absorbed.

4) Okay, so he's annoying and he's self absorbed and he's also pretty dumb. His thinking he can "hike" in the dark (right?) in the snow in the Himalayas with a headlamp and what, in my mind became "his lucky boots" because he's climbed some little mountain in them before..... if I'd had a physical book at this point I may have thrown it because I just kept thiking he's so stupid he deserves to lose a couple toes to that mountain.

5) For a moment I thought what the falafel guys said meant something to me but now I'm drawing a blank. Although, I thought he was interestingand wouldn't have minded that being filled more than it was. If Ma had gone back a few more times, and had conversations that built one on top of the other with some give and take, so well thought out questions.... Falafel guy is a good character that should have been played up more.

6) I'd like to think that Anand knew that Max needs someone with a set of beliefs and ritual to give him focus and a place to put his confusion of self. At least the situation at the ashram seems promising to make him question and maybe have some real self reflection.

7) I'm not getting back to the bick any too quickly, it's too easy for me to walk away from and not think of again for a long time, I hope the next couple of sections are more inspiring. I find Max so annoying that I can't pin down the least favorite. I hopefully his early fogginess will evolve into a full and rounded person projected from my kindle "pages"

Meryl Landau (meryldavidslandau) | 808 comments Mod
Interesting insights, Lisa. You dislike Max more than I do, although I also think he's flatter than I'd like. Without rooting for the character to succeed, I can see why you'd feel you could walk away.

I personally like that he felt so pulled to understand the meaning of life that he'd give up his material accomplishments. But I agree with you that more stories from his past would have made that more realistic.

Hiking alone in the snow indeed made me question how smart he could be, even though I know he'd done well in college.

I have read the second third of the book, and while I do think the plot is uneven, I did enjoy that section. I'm interested in seeing where the book goes from there.

message 4: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa (strangeproblem) | 18 comments You can tell how tired I was by the typos - sorry about that. I didn't even proof read that post. It's not quite as bad as I thought it was going to be.

I'm not giving up on the book but, as a character, Max seems like a DB. I thought the magical, down a back alley market sounded fantastic then the weird "you can get any animal you want" further back alley... his encounter with the woman who had recently lost her fiance to war seemed unnecessary particualrly with his wham-bam-thank you mam quick escape.... I don't know, if the author's intent in the first portion was to make readers think that this guy is fairly insufferable, self absorbed and not terribly likable they've done a good job. I think a lot of the side characters have been more interesting - the food cart guy, the guy in a wheel chair in the projects, Anand, the woman Max hooks up with (her tattoo was a great detail).

Hope springs eternal. I'm jumping back in to chapter 13.

Meryl Landau (meryldavidslandau) | 808 comments Mod
No worries about the typos, Lisa--as I say with every book, this isn't school.

I'm intrigued by your insights; I haven't disliked Max as much as you have, but I can definitely see your points. The author has to make you like the protagonist before you can root for him, and if Karan Bajaj isn't, he's falling short.

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