A Trauma Artist: Tim O'Brien and the Fiction of Vietnam by Mark A. Heberle

By Mark A. Heberle

A Trauma Artist examines how O'Brien's works variously rewrite his personal traumatization through the struggle in Vietnam as a unending fiction that ironically recovers own event by way of either recapturing and (re)disguising it. Mark Heberle considers O'Brien's occupation as a author during the prisms of post-traumatic tension affliction, postmodernist metafiction, and post-World conflict II American political uncertainties and public violence.

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Additional resources for A Trauma Artist: Tim O'Brien and the Fiction of Vietnam

Example text

I despised everything—the soil, the tunnels, the paddies, the poverty, and myself. . This is not to justify what occurred here. Justifications are empty and outrageous.

Recovering” and revealing the truth never achieve closure because the works are simultaneously engaged in re-covering and reveiling whatever may have happened through the endless displacement and fabrication of fiction. PTSD and Writing Philip Caputo, another important Vietnam writer who was also a combat veteran, has noted that no one who has intimately experienced combat can ever experience life in the same way. In her pathbreaking 1991 essay on Vietnam War literature and trauma (revised and incorporated within Worlds of Hurt ), Kali Tal points out that the deepest source of much writing by veterans is the shattering experience of deadly combat and its attendant fear, grief, guilt, and sense of helplessness.

Years ago, ignorant of the massacre, I hated this place, and places much like it. Two miles away, in an almost identical hamlet, Chip was blown into his hedge of bamboo. A mile or so east, Roy Arnold was shot dead, I was 26 FA B R I C AT I N G TR AU MA slightly wounded. A little farther east, a kid named McElhaney died. . It goes on. I despised everything—the soil, the tunnels, the paddies, the poverty, and myself. . This is not to justify what occurred here. Justifications are empty and outrageous.

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