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Book Discussions Ponder Peacetime

War, Not War book discussion
Promo image for “War, Not War, and Peace” series.

The Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma! book discussion program begins its new winter Pulitzer Centennial series at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 with “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien in Oklahoma City University’s Walker Center room 151.

First published in 1990, “The Things They Carried” has become one of the most celebrated works of literature about the Vietnam experience. A series of connected short stories with characters based on O’Brien’s own platoon from Vietnam, the stories are rich with symbolism and explorations of the psyches of American combat soldiers before, during and after the war. These stories leave readers pondering the deep questions they pose, such as how courage is defined, why war makes some people feel more alive, and what is the truth buried within fictional war stories.

Britton Gildersleeve, who developed the series for Oklahoma Humanities, says the theme title “War, Not War, and Peace” is intended to invoke the idea of a fragmented peace/non-war axis.

“Too often, ‘peace’ is simply the absence of active war,” said Gildersleeve. “Ours is a country – and culture – forged in a crucible of war and conquest. What defines much of our national character is aggression, both its light and dark sides. The books chosen for this series reflect a deep commitment to presenting Pulitzer winners detailing both the active elements of war as well as the long-lived legacies of war, in those periods optimistically called ‘peace.’”

At each session in the five-part series, a humanities scholar makes a presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Small group discussions follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, all participants come together for a brief wrap-up.

Copies of books are available to borrow free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis in Dulaney-Browne Library room 211 or 207 before Dec. 22 or after Jan. 2. Those who are interested in participating are encouraged to contact the campus series director Tracy Floreani by calling her at 405-208-5707 or e-mailing her at [email protected]. For more information, visit the series website at okcufilmlit.org.

Other dates and books in the current discussion series season are:

  • Feb. 6, “Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History” by S. C. Gwynne
  • Feb. 20, “MAUS” by Art Spiegelman
  • March 6, “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr March 20, “Neon Vernacular” (poems) by Yusef Komunyakaa
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