Happy Birthday, Tim O’Brien, born 1 October 1946.
The Shape Of Stories
That’s what fiction is for. It’s for getting at the truth when the truth isn’t sufficient for the truth.
But this too is true: stories can save us.
Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.
Writing doesn’t get easier with experience. The more you know, the harder it is to write.
Good stories deal with our moral struggles, our uncertainties, our dreams, our blunders, our contradictions, our endless quest for understanding.
The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head. There is the illusion of aliveness.
But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget.
Tim O’Brien is an American novelist well known for writing about the Vietnam War. He won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1979 for Going After Cacciato. His best known book is The Things They Carried, a collection of stories inspired by his wartime experiences.
Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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