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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