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November 4, 2011

Cowley students attend lecture and book signing


Big ReadCowley College writers participated in Wichita’s The Big Read by attending a lecture and book signing by author Tim O’Brien Thursday in Wichita. The Things They Carried, a mix of fact and fiction surrounding O’Brien’s time in Viet Nam, was the central novel of the event. The author explained that although the setting is the war, the real message is one of the power of storytelling.

“I prefer to remember the horror. Remember the friends. Remember the experience,” O’Brien said.

In doing so, he captures the essence of the war experience in a way that causes the reader to feel what he felt. When asked what he would suggest to the writer who had not experienced such an intense life experience, O’Brien emphasized that “Life is going to deliver to you plenty to write about. Life delivers plenty of tragedy.” 

He stressed that the central point in the novel is not Viet Nam, but rather what stories do best in our lives. They help us realize that oftentimes “one man’s truth might be another man’s lie.” O’Brien explains his novel is a “symbol to stand for the things we all carry in our lives.”

Kay Ryan, Adjunct instructor, led the discussions about the novel, and Julie Kratt, Humanities Department instructor, organized the partnership with the event and the trip to Wichita. Nine students attended with Ryan, Kratt and Marlys Cervantes, Humanities Department Chair. Cervantes says of the novel, “The Things They Carried can be seen a war story, very graphic, or it can be read as a celebration of the value of story. I choose to view it as the latter.”

The first chapter of the book is included in the Composition II and Creative Writing textbooks.  Copies of the novel can be checked out at Cowley College’s library.

Upcoming events for Creative Claws, the College’s writing club, include a talent show that will be Thursday, November 10, at 7 p.m. in the Robert Brown Theatre. Entry forms should be turned in to Cervantes as soon as possible. Admission to the show is $3, or $2 and a canned good for donation to a food bank for the holidays.