Minnesota Author Biographies.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

From Tomcat in Love (1998) by Tim O'Brien

Afterward, I stood studying Toby. I poked at him with my foot. "Hey, you," I murmured, but it was a very stupid turtle, more object than animal. It showed no interest in my foot, or my voice, or anything else in the physical universe. Turtle, I kept thinking, and even now, in my middle age, those twin syllables still claw at me. The quick t's on my tongue: turtle. Even after four decades I cannot encounter that word without a gate creaking open inside me. Turtle for the world--turtle for you--will never be turtle for me.

Biographical Notes

Birth: October 1, 1946, Austin, Minnesota

Author Tim O'Brien earned a B.A. in political science from Macalester College in 1968. Although against the Vietnam War, he was drafted in 1968 and served until 1970. He was assigned to Third Platoon, A Company, Fifth Battalion, Forty-sixth Infantry as a foot soldier and awarded the Purple Heart. He pursued graduate studies at Harvard University from 1970-1976 and interned at the Washington Post. He was a national affairs reporter for the Washington Post from 1974-75. He has written several novels, including Northern Lights (1975) and Going after Cacciato (1978), based on his Vietnam War experience. He has contributed short stories to Harper’s, McCall’s, and other periodicals. O’Brien has won several awards including the O. Henry Award in 1976 and 1978, the Best American Short Stories Award in 1977, the National Book Award for Fiction in 1978, the Heartland Award in 1990, France's Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger in 1990, and the Melcher Book Award in 1991. His war memoir, If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home (1973), was named Outstanding Book of 1973 by the New York Times.

Selected Works

The titles below link to the catalog record in MnPALS, the Minnesota Historical Society’s library catalog. Please click on your browser's back button to return.

Going after Cacciato
If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home
In the Lake of the Woods
Northern Lights
The Nuclear Age
Speaking of Courage
The Things They Carried
Tomcat in Love
The Vietnam in Me

Additional Resources

Minnesota Historical Society Library Links

• Search MNHS Library and Archives Catalog for author - Searches for works by this author in the Minnesota Historical Society’s library
Tim O'Brien by Tobey C. Herzog
Understanding Tim O'Brien by Steven Kaplan

Web Links

Tim O'Brien - O'Brien web page with links to interviews, reviews, and more
Bold Type - Interview with O'Brien about his book Tomcat in Love
Dave Edelman Interview with Tim O'Brien - Transcript of Interview with O'Brien
Tim O'Brien, My Lai, and America - Reviews of O'Brien's works that involve Vietnam

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