This article, published by a popular website called The Big Read, includes an exclusive 2008 interview with Tim O’Brien, the author of The Things They Carried. Josephine Reed asks questions to O’Brien and earns a more in-depth explanation from him as to why he decided to write the things he has. As a young man, O’Brien grew up in Minnesota with an ‘all-American’ childhood, his father having been a veteran from World War II.
With the inspiring stories of Okinawa and Iwo Jima having been published by his father in The New York Times, O’Brien knew that he wanted to become a writer. However, he received a draft notice and spent his tour of duty (1969-70) stationed in My Lai, where he was then sent home thanks to a piece of grenade shrapnel having been lodged in the man’s body. A purple heart was received and soon after, O’Brien’s writing experiences began.
As explained in the interview with Josephine Reed, O’Brien stated that his famous novel (The Things They Carried) is “A book that centers on Vietnam and a platoon of soldiers. In one sense, it’s about the Vietnam War, but it’s also about storytelling, how stories rule our lives, how they’re told and retold as we look for an elusive truth. And finally, it’s about writing itself—writing as an effort to pin down with language the truth about a subject.”
This article gives a reader, whom has never or rarely had contact with O’Brien’s famous works, a sense of what kind of man he is and his reasoning for writing such a novel.