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Tim O'Brien Quotes

Tim O'Brien Quote: “That’s what fiction is for.  It’s for getting at the truth when the truth isn’t sufficient for the truth.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Fiction is the lie that helps us understand the truth.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “I’m not dead. But when I am, it’s likeI don’t know, I guess it’s like being inside a book that nobody’s reading.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories ar for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “I survived, but it’s not a happy ending.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “A true war story is never moral...”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “The goal, I suppose, any fiction writer has, no matter what your subject, is to hit the human heart and the tear ducts and the nape of the neck and to make a person feel something about the characters are going through and to experience the moral paradoxes and struggles of being human.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Storytelling is the essential human activity. The harder the situation, the more essential it is.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “I was a coward. I went to the war.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “I’m skimming across the surface of my own history, moving fast, riding the melt beneath the blades, doing loops and spins, and when I take a high leap into the dark and come down thirty years later, I realize it is as Tim trying to save Timmy’s life with a story.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “In war you lose your sense of the definite, hence your sense of truth itself, and therefore it’s safe to say that in a war story nothing is ever absolutely true.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “It’s a hard thing to explain to somebody who hasn’t felt it, but the presence of death and danger has a way of bringing you fully awake. It makes things vivid.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Words, too, have genuine substance – mass and weight and specific gravity.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Imagination is a killer.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “What sticks to memory, often, are those odd little fragments that have no beginning and no end...”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Every dark cloud may well have its silver lining, but I have come to learn that every silver lining has its dark consequences.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “War is hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Even then, at nine years old, I wanted to live inside her body. I wanted to melt into her bones – THAT kind of love.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “I’ll picture Rat Kiley face, his grief, and I’ll think, You dumb cooze. Because she wasn’t listening. It wasn’t a war story. It was a love story.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “In any war story, but especially a true one, it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “What would you do? Would you jump? Would you feel pity for yourself? Would you think about your family and your childhood and your dreams and all you’re leaving behind? Would it hurt? Would it feel like dying? Would you cry, as I did?”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “My life is storytelling. I believe in stories, in their incredible power to keep people alive, to keep the living alive, and the dead.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “It was very sad, he thought. The things men carried inside. The things men did or felt they had to do.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “He wished he could’ve explained some of this. How he had been braver than he ever thought possible, but how he had not been so brave as he wanted to be. The distinction was important.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “You can’t fix your mistakes. Once people are dead, you can’t make them undead.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Let the story tell itself.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “But this too is true: stories can save us.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Everything was such a damned nice idea when it was an idea.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Writing doesn’t get easier with experience. The more you know, the harder it is to write.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing – these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Though it’s odd, you’re never more alive than when you’re almost dead. You recognize what’s valuable. Freshly, as if for the first time, you love what’s best in yourself and in the world, all that might be lost.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “A giddy feeling, in a way, except there was the dreamy edge of impossibility to it – like running a dead-end maze – no way out – it couldn’t come to a happy conclusion and yet I was doing it anyway because it was all I could think of to do.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “They shared the weight of memory. They took up what others could no longer bear. Often, they carried each other, the wounded or weak.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “A lie, sometimes, can be truer than the truth, which is why fiction gets written.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “The bad stuff never stops happening: it lives in its own dimension, replaying itself over and over.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “For Rat Kiley, I think, facts were formed by sensation, not the other way around, and when you listened to one of his stories, you’d find yourself performing rapid calculations in your head, subtracting superlatives, figuring the square root of an absolute and then multiplying by maybe.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “They carried the sky. The whole atmosphere, they carried it, the humidity, the monsoons, the stink of fungus and decay, all of it, they carried gravity.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “All that peace, man, if felt so good it hurt. I want to hurt it back.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head. There is the illusion of aliveness.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “But in a story, which is a kind of dreaming, the dead sometimes smile and sit up and return to the world.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “It was the burden of being alive. Awkwardly, the men would reassemble themselves, first in private, then in groups, becoming soldiers again. They would repair the leaks in their eyes. They would check for casualties, call in dustoffs, light cigarettes, try to smile, clear their throats and spit and begin cleaning their weapons.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Together we understood what terror was: you’re not human anymore. You’re a shadow. You slip out of your own skin, like molting, shedding your own history and your own future, leaving behind everything you ever were or wanted or believed in. You know you’re about to die. And it’s not a movie and you aren’t a hero and all you can do is whimper and wait.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “And as a writer now, I want to save Linda’s life. Not her body – her life.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “I live in my head all day long and the world is a little dreamy.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Once someone’s dead you can’t make them undead.”
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