Tim O’Brien & Tobias Wolff Talk “Writing and War”

Last month, two award-win­ning writ­ers and Viet­nam vet­er­ans – Tim O’Brien and Tobias Wolff – met at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty to talk about war and lit­er­a­ture, a tra­di­tion that has giv­en us Tol­stoy’s War and Peace, Remar­que’s All Qui­et on the West­ern Front, Hem­ing­way’s A Farewell to Arms, and Mail­er’s The Naked and the Dead. O’Brien has con­front­ed war in two pre­vi­ous works, If I Die in a Com­bat Zone and Going After Cac­cia­to. But he’s best known for The Things They Car­ried, a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries that gives lit­er­ary expres­sion to the Viet­nam expe­ri­ence, and that’s now a sta­ple of high school and col­lege lit­er­a­ture cours­es. As for Tobias Wolff, his mem­oir recount­ing his dis­il­lu­sion­ing expe­ri­ence as a sol­dier in Viet­nam – In Pharao­h’s Army – was a Nation­al Book Award final­ist, rank­ing up there with This Boy’s Life and Old School. Their wide-rang­ing con­ver­sa­tion runs 80 min­utes…

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  • Tim OBrien makes some very cogent points not the least of which, “What is wrong with the lack of crit­i­cal think­ing in this gen­er­a­tion of vol­un­teers going off to WAR”??? What is lack­ing in their char­ac­ter or moral sense about serv­ing in an unjust War in IRAQ! Where is the indig­na­tion when we learned there were no WMD’s! Tim and my gen­er­a­tion raised ques­tions and engaged in crit­i­cal debate about Viet Nam and our rea­sons for being there.

  • I would­n’t be sur­prised. Did either make ref­er­ence to The Sor­row of War?

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