• How to Revise a True War Story: Tim O'Brien's Processes of Textual Production

    John Young (see profile)
    LLC 20th- and 21st-Century American, TC Philosophy and Literature, TM Bibliography and Scholarly Editing
    American literature, Trauma
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    20th Century Literature, textual scholarship, American war in Viet Nam
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    How to Revise a True War Story is the first book-length study of O’Brien’s archival papers at the University of Texas’s Harry Ransom Center. Drawing on extensive study of drafts and other prepublication materials, as well as the multiple published versions of O’Brien’s works, John K. Young tells the untold stories behind the production of such key texts as Going After Cacciato, The Things They Carried, and In the Lake of the Woods. By reading not just the texts that have been published, but also the versions they could have been, Young demonstrates the important choices O’Brien and his editors have made about how to represent the traumas of the war in Viet Nam. The result is a series of texts that refuse to settle into a finished or stable form, just as the stories they present insist on being told and retold in new and changing ways. In their lack of textual stability, these variants across different versions enact for O’Brien’s readers the kinds of narrative volatility that is key to the American literature emerging from the war in Viet Nam. Perhaps in this case, you can tell a true war story if you just keep on revising it.
    This is the introduction to How to Revise a True War Story (University of Iowa Press, 2017).
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    Book chapter    
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago
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