A Trauma Artist examines how O'Brien's works variously rewrite his
own traumatization during the war in Vietnam as a never-ending
fiction that paradoxically "recovers" personal experience by both
recapturing and (re)disguising it. Mark Heberle considers O'Brien's
career as a writer through the prisms of post-traumatic stress
disorder, postmodernist metafiction, and post -- World War II
American political uncertainties and public violence.
Based on recent conversations with O'Brien, previously published
interviews, and new readings of all his works through 1999, this
book is the first study to concentrate on the role and
representation of trauma as the central focus of all O'Brien's
works, whether situated in Vietnam, in post-Vietnam America, or in
the imagination of protagonists suspended between the two. By doing
so, heberle redefines O'Brien as a major U.S. writer of the late
twentieth century whose representations of self-damaging
experiences and narratives of recovery characterize not only the
war in Vietnam but also relationships between fathers and sons and
men and women in the post-traumatic culture of the contemporary
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