Musings of a Future Librarian: A Lesson In Truth: Tim O’Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story”

Snapshot of O’Brien in Vietnam.

 “One doesn’t lie for the sake of lying; one does not invent merely for the sake of inventing. One does it for a particular purpose and that purpose always is to arrive at some kind of spiritual truth that one can’t discover simply by recording the world as-it-is.” – Tim O’Brien.

            Speaking the truth brings an admiration that cannot be coerced from those around us and thus explains why we revere it with such intensity. We are often told by our parents and society to simply tell the truth. They adhere to this standard  from the moment we can babble — scolding us any time we fix our mouths to lie. We are shown via communication outlets and within our homes, that there is honor in speaking into the world only what we have been told is proven. However, as we have learned throughout our developments the truth is never exactly the same for everyone. There are those versions of the truth we tell for the sake of those like our children, who are too young to comprehend the gritty details of realities such as war; and then there are those truths that we call memories. In Tim O’Brien’s, “How to Tell a True War Story” excerpt, we venture through a world in which actual events are contrasted against psychological truths that leave us questioning what is real and what is fabricated. 

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