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Big Read
00000179-cdc6-d978-adfd-cfc6d7a40000The National Endowment for the Arts' "Big Read" looks to encourage literacy by holding community events around the country celebrating a single book each year. This year's book selection is Into the Beautiful North" by Luis Alberto Urrea, which follows a nineteen-year-old woman who travels to the United States to bring back seven men--including her father--to help defend her Mexican village from danger.Of course, the stories of people who come to this country are wide and varied, and many of those stories live right here in Wichita. Over the next few weeks, we'll hear some of those stories. Follow them below.-The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of citizens. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.

Racine Zackula Saves 'Slaughterhouse-Five'


Racine Zackula and I work at the Wichita Public Library. I am the fiction selection librarian of the library, so I order all the fiction for adults. I really have the best job in the world.

I've chosen Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut as a book that I would save from being burned. And I discovered it when I was 18. And it's funny because even at 18 I just I knew parts and bits of why I liked it. But then going back on other readings, then I knew it was because of the language.

Kurt Vonnegut was a man that was taking a tired subject--I think they had gotten done with World War II--you know, to take that great war and show this other side of it. He didn't have that experience in World War II, he had a bad experience and he saw the suffering and he saw the hurt and he had to do something unique which was turning into a science fiction novel and have his protagonist be taken by the aliens and to jump back and forth in time. And Vonnegut kind of shocked people at times. I think he threw in things that would be unexpected or taboo at that time, to talk about things that people didn't talk about in polite society. So all of those things, I think, worked to make this a great piece of fiction because it's not conventional. It's not.

And one thing that I learned--Kurt Vonnegut is the age... he released this book the same age I am now. And looking back on my life, he wanted to take something that was really meaningful in his life and he's taking something that's deeply personal, something that people have written about a lot, you know, 'War is bad.' How do I make this different? How do I make this art?

And I think he succeeded on many fronts.