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Book Club
"Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate
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Cynthia White
530/458-7671




Meeting Date: January 9, 2020

Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber’s son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. As Vonnegut had, Billy experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW. Unlike Vonnegut, he experiences time travel, or coming “unstuck in time.”

An instant bestseller, Slaughterhouse-Five made Kurt Vonnegut a cult hero in American literature, a reputation that only strengthened over time, despite his being banned and censored by some libraries and schools for content and language. But it was precisely those elements of Vonnegut’s writing—the political edginess, the genre-bending inventiveness, the frank violence, the transgressive wit—that have inspired generations of readers not just to look differently at the world around them but to find the confidence to say something about it. Authors as wide-ranging as Norman Mailer, John Irving, Michael Crichton, Tim O’Brien, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Strout, David Sedaris, Jennifer Egan, and J. K. Rowling have all found inspiration in Vonnegut’s words. Jonathan Safran Foer has described Vonnegut as “the kind of writer who made people—young people especially—want to write.” George Saunders has declared Vonnegut to be “the great, urgent, passionate American writer of our century, who offers us . . . a model of the kind of compassionate thinking that might yet save us from ourselves.”

Fifty years after its initial publication at the height of the Vietnam War, Vonnegut's portrayal of political disillusionment, PTSD, and postwar anxiety feels as relevant, darkly humorous, and profoundly affecting as ever, an enduring beacon through our own era’s uncertainties.





Upcoming Selections & Meeting Dates
January 2020:  "Slaughterhouse 5" by Kurt Vonnegut
March 2020:  "Educated" by Tara Westover
May 2020:  "We Are Water" by Wally Lamb

Past Selections
November 2019: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
September 2019: Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
May 2019: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
April 2019: The Dionne Years: A Thirties Melodrama by Pierre Berton
February 2019: All They Will Call You by Tim Hernandez
January 2019: There There by Tommy Orange
November 2018:  Immortal Irishman
by Tim Egan
September 2018: Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
May 2018: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
April 2018: The Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
March 2018: The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan
January 2018: Barkskins
 by Annie Proulx
December 2017: 
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
October 2017:  Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
September 2017:  Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
May 2017: The Green Road by Anne Enright
March/April 2017: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
February 2017: Wintering by Peter Geye
January 2017: 11-22-63 by Stephen King