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Author Tim O'Brien O'Brien was born in Austin, Minnesota. When he was seven, his family, including a younger sister and brother, moved to Worthington, Minnesota. Worthington had a large influence on O'Brien's imagination and early development as an author. The town is located on Lake Okabena in the western portion of the state and serves as the setting for some of his stories, especially those in the novel The Things They Carried. He earned his BA in Political Science from Macalester College, where he was student body president, in 1968. That same year he was drafted into the United States Army and was sent to Vietnam, where he served from 1969 to 1970 in 3rd Platoon, Company A, 5th Battalion, 46th Infantry Regiment. He served in the division that contained a unit involved in the infamous My Lai Massacre. O'Brien has said that when his unit got to the area around My Lai (referred to as "Pinkville" by the U.S. forces), "we all wondered why the place was so hostile. We did not know there had been a massacre there a year earlier. The news about that only came out later, while we were there, and then we knew."

Upon completing his tour of duty, O'Brien went on to graduate school at Harvard University and received an internship at the Washington Post. His writing career was launched in 1973 with the release of If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home (1973), about his war experiences. In this memoir, O'Brien writes: "Can the foot soldier teach anything important about war, merely for having been there? I think not. He can tell war stories."

One attribute of O'Brien's work is the blur between fiction and reality; labeled "verisimilitude", his work contains actual details of the situations he experienced. Although this is a common literary technique, his conscious, explicit, and metafictional approach to the distinction between fact and fiction is a unique component of his writing style. In the chapter "Good Form" in The Things They Carried, O'Brien casts a distinction between "story-truth" (the truth of fiction) and "happening-truth" (the truth of fact or occurrence), writing that "story-truth is sometimes truer than happening-truth." Story truth is emotional truth; thus the feeling created by a fictional story is sometimes truer than what results from reading the facts. Certain sets of stories in The Things They Carried seem to contradict each other, and certain stories are designed to "undo" the suspension of disbelief created in previous stories; for example, "Speaking of Courage" is followed by "Notes", which explains in what ways "Speaking of Courage" is fictional.

O'Brien's papers are housed at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

O'Brien writes and lives in central Texas, where he raises his young sons and teaches full-time every other year at Texas State University_San Marcos. In alternate years, he teaches several workshops to MFA students in the creative writing program.



Tim O'Brien Book List
His website: www.illyria.com
Similar authors: Lawrence Block, Harlan Coben, Dennis Lehane, Scott Turow
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Going After Cacciato

Signed Hardcover Book

Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien

In the Lake of the Woods
Signed First Edition

In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien

The Nuclear Age

Signed First Edition

The Nuclear Age by Tim O'Brien
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Going After Cacciato | O'Brien, Tim | Signed First Edition UK Book O'Brien, Tim | Going After Cacciato | Signed First Edition UK Copy

Author Signed UK Hardcover Book.  1978 LON: Cape  First UK edition, first printing, mint, new/unread in a flawless dust jacket, author signed bookplate.  Each dust jacket is protected in an acid-free archival quality acetate cover.

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In the Lake of the Woods | O'Brien, Tim | Signed Book - Advance Reading Copy O'Brien, Tim | In the Lake of the Woods | Signed Book - Advance Reading Copy

Author Signed ARC. 1994 NY: Houghton Mifflin Advance Reading Copy, mint, new/unread in a flawless dust jacket, signed bookplate on first title page.

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In the Lake of the Woods | O'Brien, Tim | Signed Book - Advance Reading Copy O'Brien, Tim | In the Lake of the Woods | Signed Book - Advance Reading Copy

Author Signed ARC. 1994 NY: Houghton Mifflin Advance Reading Copy, mint, new/unread in a flawless dust jacket, signed by the author.

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In the Lake of the Woods | O'Brien, Tim | Signed First Edition Book O'Brien, Tim | In the Lake of the Woods | Signed First Edition Copy

Author Signed Hardcover Book.  1994 NY: Houghton Mifflin  First edition, first printing, mint, new/unread, flawless dust jacket, signed by author.

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In the Lake of the Woods | O'Brien, Tim | Signed First Edition Book O'Brien, Tim | In the Lake of the Woods | Signed First Edition Copy

Author Signed Hardcover Book.  1994 NY: Houghton Mifflin  First edition, later printing, mint, new/unread, flawless dust jacket, signed by author.

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July, July | O'Brien, Tim | Signed First Edition Book O'Brien, Tim | July, July | Signed First Edition Copy

Author Signed Hardcover Book.  2002 NY: Houghton Mifflin  First edition, first printing, mint, new/unread, flawless dust jacket, signed by author.  Each dust jacket is protected in an acid-free archival quality acetate cover.

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Nuclear Age, The | O'Brien, Tim | Signed First Edition Book O'Brien, Tim | Nuclear Age, The | Signed First Edition Copy

Author Signed Hardcover Book.  1985 NY: Knopf  First edition, first printing, mint, new/unread, flawless dust jacket, signed by author.

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Tomcat in Love | O'Brien, Tim | Signed First Edition Book O'Brien, Tim | Tomcat in Love | Signed First Edition Copy

Author Signed Hardcover Book.  1998 NY: Broadway Books  First edition, first printing, mint, new/unread, flawless dust jacket, signed by author.

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Tomcat in Love | O'Brien, Tim | Signed First Edition Book O'Brien, Tim | Tomcat in Love | Signed First Edition Copy

Author Signed Hardcover Book (bookplate laid-in)  1998 NY: Broadway First edition, first printing, mint, new/unread in a flawless dust jacket, author-signed bookplate laid in.  Each dust jacket is protected in an acid-free archival quality acetate cover.

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O'Brien, Tim - Signed Bookplate (Signed Bookplate) Signed Bookplate | O'Brien, Tim | Signed Bookplate

Author Signed Bookplate.  Self-adhesive label, approximately 3" x 4" (though sizes may vary slightly), signed by the author.

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Tim O'Brien Bibliography


  • If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home (1973)
  • Northern Lights (1975)
  • "Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy?" (1975)
  • Going After Cacciato (1978)
  • The Nuclear Age (1985))
  • The Things They Carried (1990)
  • In the Lake of the Woods (1994)
  • Tomcat in Love (1998)
  • July, July (2002)


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