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Tim O'Brian Quotes

17 of the best book quotes from Tim O'Brian
  1. #1
    “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.”
  2. #2
    “It’s safe to say that in a true war story nothing is ever absolutely true.”
  3. #3
    “It had all the shadings and complexities of mature adult love, and maybe more, because there were not yet words for it, and because it was not yet fixed to comparisons or chronologies or the ways by which adults measure such things. I just loved her.”
  4. #4
    “I should’ve stepped in; fourth grade is no excuse. Besides, it doesn’t get easier with time, and twelve years later, when Vietnam presented much harder choices, some practice at being brave might’ve helped.”
  5. #5
    “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.”
  6. #6
    “My conscience told me to run, but some irrational and powerful force was resisting, like a weight pushing me toward the war. What it came down to, stupidly, was a sense of shame”
  7. #7
    “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.”
  8. #8
    “By daylight they took sniper fire, at night they were mortared, but it was not battle, it was just the endless march, village to village, without purpose, nothing won or lost.”
  1. #9
    “I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.”
  2. #10
    “He wished he could have 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.”
  3. #11
    “They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to. It was what had brought them to the war in the first place, nothing positive, no dreams of glory or honor, just to avoid the blush of dishonor. They died so as not to die of embarrassment.”
  4. #12
    “I’d come to this war a quiet, thoughtful sort of person, a college grad, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, all the credentials, but after seven months in the bush I realized that those high, civilized trappings had somehow been crushed under the weight of the simple daily realities. I’d turned mean inside.”
  5. #13
    “You’re pinned down in some filthy hellhole of a paddy […] but then for a few seconds everything goes quiet and you look up and see the sun and a few puffy white clouds, and the immense serenity flashes against your eyeballs—the whole world gets rearranged—and even though you’re pinned down by a war you’ve never felt more at peace.”
  6. #14
    “They shared the weight of memory. They took up what others could no longer bear. Often, they carried each other, the wounded or weak.”
  7. #15
    “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...field, and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that did not in fact occur but that nonetheless help to clarify and explain.”
  8. #16
    “You make close friends. You become part of a tribe and you share the same blood—you give it together, you take it together.”
  9. #17
    “They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture.”

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