Posts Tagged ‘Tim O’Brien’

30th July
2009
written by Tony

I’ve spent some time thinking about this book. Almost a month now, to be precise. As I sat getting my hair cut one afternoon (the cut I wore to my wedding) by a woman from Mankato, a tiny town about 20 miles away from my hometown, I wondered how she made it all the way down to Nashville. It occurred to me that she probably wonders the same about me. I asked, and she said she wanted a change of scenery. Who knows why anyone ends up where they do sometimes? I feel like that is really the theme of this book, like it’s a couple hundred pages that just really ask “Why am I here? Why me? Why not me?” Thinking about all this makes me think about the stories in this book, and about my father, a veteran of the Viet Nam war and the things he told me about being in the service.

There is a lot to take in through this rather short novel, and the way O’Brien blends truth and “story truth” makes it difficult or impossible to separate the real from the imagined in many cases. That seems about right to me. I’ve asked my dad about what went on overseas and while some of his memories are strikingly vivid and accurate, many things are lost to him. He has spent a lot of time trying to figure out where he served and who he served with. Sometimes, when I thought about it, this search seemed odd, like it shouldn’t be something so easily forgotten, but later, when I come back to what he has told me of his memories, they are so large, so impossible to comprehend, that it seems like he shouldn’t be able to fit anything else in his head, and as I lived more of my life I began to understand how certain things just get lost along the way.

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