Tuco and the Scattershot World (Paperback)
A Life with Birds
Greystone Books, 9781771643009, 344pp.
Publication Date: August 26, 2018
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About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. A major theme of Tuco and the Scattershot World is the concept of “Othering.” What does the author, Brian Brett, mean by this term? And when and how in the book does it occur?
2. What are some examples of othering that you have witnessed, or perhaps experienced, in your own life? And what causes or effects do you believe it had?
3. What do you think can limit, oppose, or challenge the impulse toward othering? Can some action or effort be made so that it will happen less often in society? Is such an effort worthwhile?
4. Parrots are complex birds. Brian sheds light on this complexity in his portrayal of Tuco. What surprised you about Tuco’s behavior or his connection with Brian?
5. How does Tuco’s behaviour change throughout the book? Why do you think that was? And how does Tuco’s behavior remain consistent?
6. Bullying and torment shrouds a lot of Brian’s childhood memories. How is Brian’s trauma from this bullying that he faced reflected in his adult worldview?
7. How does the isolation in Brian’s adolescence influence his relationship with Tuco? Did their bond change your perspective on the need for support animals?
8. Brian exhibits several profound acts of empathy for the environment and other living beings throughout the book. What were some instances when this empathy changed the course of his life? Would you have made the same choices that he did?
9. On page 314, Brian notes, “I no longer laugh at the dinosaurs. All brawn and no brains—when I was a child that’s why we thought they went extinct. The evidence today suggests our chance of lasting as long as dinosaurs is close to nil.” What is Brian implying here? What is the relevance of this statement to how we view ourselves as a species?
10. Throughout Tuco, Brian delves deeply into the biology and psychology of parrots and other birds. He also details human-bird interaction over time. What personal conclusions or growth does he draw from all of this research? Did it also help you to better understand this unique relationship?