40 Tim O’Brien Quotes And Sayings For Inspiration

tim o'brien quotes

William Timothy O’Brien is an American novelist. He is best known for his book The Things They Carried (1990), a collection of linked semi-autobiographical stories inspired by O’Brien’s experiences in the Vietnam War. Hope, our collection of Tim O’Brien Quotes will give you the courage to live fearlessly.

But this too is true: stories can save us.

– Tim O’Brien

Tim O’Brien Quotes

1. “A lie, sometimes, can be truer than the truth, which is why fiction gets written.” – Tim O’Brien

2. “A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.” – Tim O’Brien

3. “A bullet can kill the enemy, but a bullet can also produce an enemy, depending on whom that bullet strikes.” – Tim O’Brien

4. “By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths.” – Tim O’Brien

5. “Fiction is the lie that helps us understand the truth.” – Tim O’Brien

6. “War is a fundamental aspect of human existence. It’s good to know what war entails and what the human sacrifice is.” – Tim O’Brien

7. “Fantasy has a dark side to it. It also has a light hemisphere – the power of the human imagination to keep going, to imagine a better tomorrow.” – Tim O’Brien

8. “Storytelling is the essential human activity. The harder the situation, the more essential it is.” – Tim O’Brien

9. “But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget.” – Tim O’Brien

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10. “What sticks to memory, often, are those odd little fragments that have no beginning and no end.” – Tim O’Brien

11. “Fiction is a lie that is told in the service of truth.” – Tim O’Brien

12. “Stories are not explanations of the world we live in. Science does that, and math does that. Our obligation as fiction writers is to enhance the mysteries.” – Tim O’Brien

13. “Everyone acts stupid at some time in order to be loved.” – Tim O’Brien

14. “When your afraid, really afraid, you see things you never saw before, you pay attention to the world.” – Tim O’Brien

15. “I’m not dead. But when I am, it’s likeI don’t know, I guess it’s like being inside a book that nobody’s reading.” – Tim O’Brien

16.Writing doesn’t get easier with experience. The more you know, the harder it is to write.” – Tim O’Brien

17. “If you don’t care for obscenity, you don’t care for the truth.” – Tim O’Brien

18. “Laughter does not deny pain. Laughter – like a wail – acknowledges and replies to pain.” – Tim O’Brien

19. “At the bottom, all wars are the same because they involve death and maiming and wounding, and grieving mothers, fathers, sons and daughters.” – Tim O’Brien

20. “I learned that moral courage is harder than physical courage.” – Tim O’Brien

21. “Fiction, maybe art in general, is a tentative, uncertain enterprise; it’s not science, it’s an exploration, but you never find much in the way of answers.” – Tim O’Brien

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22. “The presence of danger has a way of making you feel fully awake.” – Tim O’Brien

23. “But this too is true: stories can save us.” – Tim O’Brien

24. “War is hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love.” – Tim O’Brien

25. “I’m not dead. But when I am, it’s likeI don’t know, I guess it’s like being inside a book that nobody’s reading.” – Tim O’Brien

26. “A small, seemingly inconsequential event can determine a life.” – Tim O’Brien

27. “And in the end, of course, a true war story is never about war. It’s about sunlight.” – Tim O’Brien

28. “Words, too, have genuine substance — mass and weight and specific gravity.” – Tim O’Brien

29. “Imagination, like reality, has its limits.” – Tim O’Brien

30. “In war you lose your sense of the definite, hence your sense of truth itself, and therefore it’s safe to say that in a war story nothing is ever absolutely true.” – Tim O’Brien

31. “The bad stuff never stops happening: it lives in its own dimension, replaying itself over and over.” – Tim O’Brien

32. “Nostalgia – that’s the basic sickness, and I never heard of a doctor who can cure it.” – Tim O’Brien

33. “Every dark cloud may well have its silver lining, but I have come to learn that every silver lining has its dark consequences.” – Tim O’Brien

34. “A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue.” – Tim O’Brien

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35. “Don’t throw away luck on little stuff. Save it up.” – Tim O’Brien

36. “We kept the dead alive with stories … bringing body and soul back together.” – Tim O’Brien

37. “But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget.” – Tim O’Brien

38. “Stories are for joining the past to the future.” – Tim O’Brien

39. “It’s very hard to articulate the things that are important about writing.” – Tim O’Brien

40. “Everything was such a damned nice idea when it was an idea.” – Tim O’Brien

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