Week of September 13th, 2004 | Tim O'Brien

This week's interview is with Tim O'Brien, one of our generation's finest novelists. Mr. O'Brien is the preeminent chronicler of the Vietnam War. He wrote IF I DIE IN A COMBAT ZONE in

1973. The novel captured O'Brien's experiences as a soldier in Vietnam, a war he would return to in several of his subsequent novels.

O'Brien won the National Book Award with Going After Cacciato in 1979. This novel is currently being adapted for the theater. In 1990 O'Brien wrote THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, a collection of short stories dealing with the war in Vietnam. It was nominated for the National Book Critics Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The title story is one of the most anthologized stories in modern fiction.

In 1994 O'Brien published IN THE LAKE OF THE WOODS, a novel that combines narrative, war quotes, magic, and politics in a radical form. In 1998 Mr. O'Brien published TOMCAT IN LOVE, a novel that ventures away from the Vietnam arena. It is a comic romp, and as with all of O'Brien's characters, there is more to the story than we originally think. There is magic at work in this story as well.

O'Brien's most recent novel JULY, JULY was published in 2002. It chronicles the lives of a group of friends that congregate for their class reunion.

I first met Tim O'Brien at the Sewanee Writer's Conference in 1996. I heard him read the short story that became the first chapter of TOMCAT IN LOVE, mesmerized by the power of his prose. I went on to study with Tim during the conference. Tim is a perceptive teacher, and his workshops were filled with helpful criticism.

This interview was recorded in July, 2004 at the Sewanee Writer's Conference. We talked in the dining room at Rebel's Rest, a beautiful place to sit and talk about writing. I hope you enjoy the interview.

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with Tim O'Brien
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