Live To Tell The Tale
By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You start sometimes with an incident that truly happened, like the night in the shit field, and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that did not in fact occur but that nonetheless help to clarify and explain. – From “Notes” in The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien.
Tim O’Brien dared explore the unmentionable truths of soldiers at war. His is not a tale of glory-seeking patriots, but of regular guys with regular lives, most who considered themselves decent and civilized before the threat of being labeled a coward forced them to become sanctioned killers.
This is not the typical war story chock full of muscular American heroes fighting for the greater good. It is one of guilt, crushing peer pressure, aimless musing, shame, mundanity, and cold fear. This is war.
O’Brien achieves something far greater than realism in his collection of war stories — he captures an enormous amount of emotional motivation swirling behind the dark eye of reality. The Things They Carried is humanity at its worst, and most resilient. It is art from ashes, life from death, clarification.
Can you objectify your own worst experiences? Can you put a human face on war, domestic or otherwise, and move on with hope to never witness such vulnerability and brutality ever again?
Tell me your war stories.
Entries are due by 11:45 EST, Sunday, March 22nd.
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