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The Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport

Tim O'Brien -- Fiction

Host(s): Stan Sanvel Rubin

Tape order number: B-8

Visit Date: December 3, 1998

Brief Summary: O'Brien talks about the dynamic relationship between fact, truth, and imagination. He sees intuition as the imagination of the reader engaging in the prose of the story, allowing each reader to arrive at a meningfulness that is personally derived. In this sense, "truth" is individual: a derivative of fact which is provided by the writer and the individual imagination of the reader. O'Brien discusses his responsibility as a writer to provide the reader with "tact," and his work as a medium through which fact, writer, and reader meet. He talks about his use of short choppy sentences as a deliberate attempt to present a story as it occurs in life, and the need for the reader to construct order and logic from events that seemingly occur without meaning.

Work(s) Discussed:

  • If I Die in the Combat Zone
  • In the Lake of the Woods
  • Northern Lights
  • The Things They Carried
  • Tomcat in Love
  • Going After Cacciato

Work(s) Read:

  • "The Things They Carried"

As a writer of fact, I am seduced and beguiled that fact is delusionary and beguiling and slippery . . .

-- Tim O'Brien

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