Tim O’Brien tries to make sense of wartime chaos

Tim O’Brien is best known as the writer of “The Things They Carried” and “In the Lake of the Woods” — two works of fiction about the Vietnam War and its aftermath which can be safely counted among the most accomplished, affecting, important, troubling and pleasurable documents of the twentieth century.The foundation for those books was laid in Vietnam itself, where he began writing his first book, “If I Die In a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home,” a memoir, in the last hour or two of daylight, from the foxhole he had dug to keep himself alive, a story he recounts in an interview bundled with the newly released 40th anniversary audiobook edition of the memoir. By the end of his tour, he had accumulated, by his count, 30 or 40 handwritten pages which represented the beginning of a lifelong reckoning with what O’Brien now calls “that terrible decision”: “What do you do when you get a draft notice and you think a war is wrong? And I struggled with that for months prior to my being inducted into the army, and I’m still struggling with it, 40 years later.”Continue Reading…

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Tim O’Brien tries to make sense of wartime chaos

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