Book in Common shares veteran’s trials overseas

Nicholas Carr

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Dan Reidel Jojo Sanchez reads an excerpt from “The Yellow Birds,” a story about one soldier’s time in Iraq. Sanchez, a Butte College student, plans on transferring to Chico State next year.

Dan Reidel
Jojo Sanchez reads an excerpt from “The Yellow Birds,” a story about one soldier’s time in Iraq. Sanchez, a Butte College student, plans on transferring to Chico State next year.

The story being told across Chico State’s campus and the county is a tale about veterans and the human cost of military action.

The opening presentation of this year’s Book in Common on Thursday discussed this year’s pick: “The Yellow Birds.”

The Book in Common recounts a series of events based on a novel endorsed by the cities of Oroville and Chico in addition to Chico State and Butte College.

The program provides a forum for students, Chicoans and people throughout Butte County to read a book and discuss it as a community.

The purpose of the program is to identify and discuss narratives that are important to the community, but not conclusively addressed, said Chico State President Paul Zingg.

“The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers is a fictional interpretation of what the author experienced during his two years as a soldier in northern Iraq.

Some of the members of the Chico State Student Veterans Organization read the book when it was being considered as the subject for the Book in Common, said Bill Loker, dean of undergraduate education.

“They enthusiastically recommended that we adopt this book if for no other reason than to have the conversations that we hope to host throughout this year,” Loker said.

Zingg likened the story to “The Red Badge of Courage,” “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “The Things They Carried,” three iconic war novels based on the experiences of veterans from the Civil War, World War I and the Vietnam War, respectively.

“It’s of that caliber,” Zingg said. “It’s that important.”

As part of the opening ceremony, students from Butte College read excerpts from the novel to the audience. JoJo Sanchez chose the book’s first five pages, which begins with, “The war tried to kill us in the spring,” and details the ominous presence of the conflict, personified as an ever-hungry power that couldn’t be tamed or understood.

The next event for the Book in Common series will take place on Oct. 5 in Colusa Hall.

It will feature a viewing of “High Ground,” a documentary focused on the post-war experiences of a group of veterans who join an expedition to climb to the 20,000 feet peak of Mt. Lobuche in the Himalayas.

 

Nicholas Carr can be reached at [email protected] or @nikecarr on Twitter.

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