Object of the Month, October 2015
Philip Mohr, curator
Our book club recently discussed Kurt Vonnegut's Slaugtherhouse-Five, which brought our World War II book series to a close. The book is a fictionalized version of Vonnegut's own experiences in the war. Writing was a means for him to cope with his memory of the war. Writing can be an excellent method to record one’s experiences and express emotions. It can also help people deal with the trauma of war. Jonathan Shay’s work on PTSD argues that being able to place trauma within a larger narrative can aid in the healing process.
The memory of WWII has stayed fresh in the minds of veterans, people who lived on the home front, and also in the “collective memory” of nations. It is important to remember historic epochs such as WWII and the detailed events within them. In order to do that, we must consider all kinds of writing, including those that question the value or means of war.
Local veteran Bruce Muench wrote SPAMⓇ Cans, Rice Balls and Pearls: Snippets of Memory from World War II as fictionalized memories from his time in the Pacific Theater. He intentionally straddled the line between fiction and autobiography in order to tell a short novel of truth instead of facts. This artistic expression of experience is a legitimate source for understanding attitudes toward the war even though we cannot use them to discern how events actually occurred.