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KAPOW! celebrating ten years at Powells.com
KAPOW! Decade of Reading essay contest
What was your most memorable reading experience of the last ten years?

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Powells.com, we're asking readers worldwide to describe their most memorable reading experience of the past ten years. To get you started, a few well-known writers and Powell's employees have already taken the question for a spin. Here is one of their answers.
The End of Youth

The End of Youth
by Rebecca Brown

"Continuing with the intimate first person narrator who whispers taut, iambic sentences in our ears, Rebecca Brown's latest work is The End of Youth. With wit and care, the thirteen linked stories show us that coming of age moments happen at any age." Tricia, Powells.com
Your Price: $13.50
(New - Trade Paper)

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by Kurt Vonnegut

List Price $16.00
Your Price: $10.95
(Used - Trade Paper)

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Rebecca Brown on Classic Wartime Reading

Two nights ago I finished reading Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut. I was sitting up in bed next to my peacefully sleeping spouse. It was a lovely summer night and the windows were open and the night was still and the sound of my dear love's breathing was so sweet and calm. But when I finished Bluebeard and closed the cover quietly (which was easy to do because it was a woolly-feeling, used paperback I had purchased four days previous, from a funny little bookstore, for 6.50 plus tax, which is as good a place as any to put in the plug I want to for Powell's and every other independent new and used book store that has kept me in reading matter the past four decades), I thought to myself, "Dear God. Oh, dear God."

It is awful — by which I mean it is important, it is imperative, it is necessary — to read books about war right now. And Vonnegut, though often slighted as merely a "cult" writer, is one of the great, great writers about war. I read Bluebeard this week, for the first time, because last week I had reread Slaughterhouse-Five again, for the whatevereth time, and that book is only better, more horrifyingly accurate and funny sad and — again my word is — necessary than ever. This book becomes more of everything great it is because each time I read it we, by which I mean in general, humanity, but, also, specifically, criminally, America, we are at a different, an other, a same old new again war. (Overt, covert, whatever you call it, we are always, like the reform school bully beating up on someone, at war.) But each war has new improved means of cruelty, viciousness and slaughter (in addition to all the old standbys methods of those things we humans seem so in love with). These two books of Vonnegut's are all about what vermin we human beings can be. But the fact that they were written, that a human being wrote them, gives me some kind of hope. This hope, however small, is that as well as still murdering ourselves and one another we are also, still, trying to understand ourselves, perhaps with even an eye to becoming a less violent species. I do not have hope in much these days (Iraq in general, Abu Ghraib in particular, plus of course the old standard, millennia of everyday rape). But reading a book like either Bluebeard or Slaughterhouse-Five makes me think that maybe, maybe, someday enough of us will stop and listen and think, and then actually stop this thing we do to each other.

About Rebecca Brown
Rebecca Brown is the author of The Terrible Girls, Annie Oakley's Girl, The Gifts of the Body, The Dogs, and Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary. She lives in Seattle.

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