Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Tim O’Brien’s fiction has changed the way readers think about the Vietnam War, about truth, and about storytelling itself. Powerfully concrete, subtle in detail, his novels and stories examine deeply what it means to be alive and what it means to make difficult choices in crisis situations.
His shifting narratives and repeated reconstructions force readers to follow where he leads. “The angle shapes reality,” the narrator of In the Lake of the Woods tells the reader, “Partly window, partly mirror, the angle is where memory dissolves.” So it is with O’Brien’s work: Each time the reader returns to reread the stories and novels, the angle shifts, and a new set of perspectives opens.