Tim O'Brien

Tim O’Brien was born in Minnesota in 1946 and grew to become a legend American writer and a novelist specializing mostly with his own life experiences during the Vietnam War. The repercussions of the war to both American soldiers involved in the war and their families also formed a rich area of literature for Tim to adventure on and explore in writing. His early imaginations, experiences and development as an author developed when they moved to Worthington, Minnesota. In 1968, Tim earned his M.A degree in political science from Macalester College. During the same years after graduation, Tim was recruited in the American army and posted to fight the Vietnam War where he served for three years. After his assignment for three years, he went back Harvard University and joined a graduate class where he received an internship position with the Washington post. His writing skills were manifested in 1973 when he released his first writings about his war experiences entitled, “If I die in a Combat zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home.” O’Brien’s writing works contained a vague impression and distinction between reality and fiction which he labeled as ‘verisimilitude.’ There were actual detailed contained in his works concerning the actual experiences he had during the war period (O’Brien par 2).

However, there is an extraordinary approach taken by O’Brien when distinguishing between what was a fact and a fiction which he described in an unusual, explicit, conscious and metafictional approach. His categorization of story truth which represented fiction truth and the happening truth depicted by truth of occurrences of facts were clearly distinct. O’Brien argued that story truth was more reliable than happening-truth. Many quotes of his are still widely used and relevant to the present and modern societies. One such is, “Though it’s odd, you’re never more alive than when you’re almost dead.” According to Tom O’Brien, he was assigned to Alpha Company which was consisted in the 5th Battalion all through to the 46th infantry in the 198th infantry brigade. He received trainings in America but had to undergo finer tunings at the American base of Chu Lai in Vietnam before proceeding to war for orientation. O’Brien was airlifted from the fighting base in Vietnam where he had encountered a rear echelon official who was a battalion executive officer. The officer was responsible for the insight and investigation of what transpired during the My Lai Massacre which was responsibility of the Charlie Company which formed the same battalion but under different wing. This novel of “If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home” ends with O’Brien being flown home (O’Brien par 6).           

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