Tim O’Brien Interview

After watching this short interview with O’Brien, it surprised me that anyone would classify “The Things They Carried” as an autobiography. From what he said about the novel, it was written in order to seem real, but was only very vaguely based upon his actual experience in Vietnam. The highly modified or even completely fictional episodes of TTTC were meant as a way to show the personal sacrifice and pain caused by war instead of having everything glossed over in newspapers and statistics. Clearly, this falls much more closely under the genre of historical fiction than autobiography even though there is a character named Tim O’Brien.

Another surprising and interesting point of O’Brien’s commentary was that he originally wrote the book for an audience of “over 25.” This seemed odd at first since most of those fighting in wars and therefore confused about their complexity would be very young men primarily from 18-24. However, Tim did admit that now that the book has been published for some time, he sees it as a valuable tool for teaching the youth about the purpose and shortcomings of war. Also, I realized that he was right about the older population: most of them are so far distanced from war, that a book like “The Things They Carried” is helpful in bringing the concept of war down to earth for people who have no chance to participate in it.


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