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Sunday's Episode: Who is John Galt?

Dear <<First Name>>,

Today's episode carries a cliched title for the obvious book of discussion: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. To offset all the cliche that the title is, let us discuss this Rand classic in a fresher perspective. 

What is the story? Countless people have already talked about it, analysed it, ripped the story threadbare, seen what Rand's philosophy entails and how it takes shape in her 1200-page colossal work of explaining objectivism through this fiction. I'm sure a google search will bring to you both the views- why her philosophy is mind-blowing and prophetic, and also why her philosophy is deeply flawed, wrong, and ridiculous.

I'm not going to be talking about that, though I do believe her philosophy is absurd one-tracked, and flawed. It is true, and it can never be denied, that discussing Ayn Rand's work after removing her philosophy from it is impossible, and also isn't right. But, if it's neither about the story, nor about her objectivism, what is this discussion about?

And thus, we come to the true title of today's episode: what makes Atlas Shrugged an absorbing read even when you find Rand's ideals absurd and flawed? Only two seemingly simple reasons, but quite powerful ones.
One, Ayn Rand happens to be a great storyteller. Her utterly dystopian world that is on the verge of an economic collapse is painted in black and white morally. The characters are extreme personifications of the idea they represent, which is nothing new to someone who has read The Fountainhead. Having characters so very polarized and so unbelievably binary, we would expect it to elicit smirks of disbelief. And, it is in many parts. But, Rand has a way with her words and a fast-paced mysterious narrative that has a peculiar gravity to it. Once you open her book, the force holds you till you finish it till the very end, irrespective of whether you agree with her. 
That is also probably what is scary about reading her work. It must be read keeping in mind that it cannot be looked as a story alone, because it is not. You cannot let the storyteller carry you away. Her sole purpose of writing this literature is to use it as a vehicle to further her theories on objectivism, as she herself states.

Two, the reason is also today's title, the book's opening question and recurring slogan: "Who is John Galt?" The book is  unputdownable because the readers go on a quest for this answer, through which they steadily unravel Rand's objectivism and recurring themes of self-interest while not really finding out much about the shadowy John Galt, which culminates in the grand finale of a 100-page monologue by John Galt who is used to voice Rand's theories of the right to selfish self-interest. 

And, she pulls you through and keeps you reading till the very end. But for those who found the story compelling and the theories absurd, the last laugh comes from what she says after the end of the novel. 
"I trust that no one  will tell me that men such as  I write about don't exist. That this book has been written- and published- is my proof that they do."

I'd wonder how anyone can agree with that, given that the world clearly does not run on a moral binary, and it is not a mutually-exclusive black and white but an integral spectrum of infinite shades. 
If you are interested, and have time for a long, compelling read that will keep you hooked whether you like it or not, then pick this up. If you have already read Rand, let me know if you agree with my reasons why it is unputdownable (irrespective of whether you love or hate her ideas). 

What to look forward to? I would love to talk about Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, and the fascinating genre of urban fantasy coming Tuesday!
As always, you are welcome to share your thoughts, experiences, perspectives, anecdotes, criticisms, and anything at all that you would regarding today's literary discussion or my piece on it!

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