In conversation with author Ben Fountain
After becoming a father for the first time at the age of 58, National Book Award–winning novelist Tim O’Brien did the math, and it was grim. When his two young sons would begin to know him, they would know an old man. He regretted waiting so long to have them and that he wouldn’t be around to teach them everything he had learned.
O’Brien resolved to give his sons what he wished his own father had given him—a few scraps of paper signed “Love, Dad.” Maybe a word of advice. Maybe a sentence or two about some long-ago Christmas Eve. Maybe some scattered glimpses of their rapidly aging father, a man they might never really know. For the next 15 years, the author talked to his sons on paper, as if they were adults, imagining what they might want to hear from a father who was no longer among the living. The result is Dad’s Maybe Book—the first new book by O’Brien in almost two decades—in which he shares wisdom from a life in letters, lessons learned in wartime, and the challenges, humor, and rewards of raising two sons.
O’Brien’s acclaimed novels include The Things They Carried, In the Lake of the Woods, and Going After Cacciato, which won the 1979 National Book Award in fiction. In 2013 he was awarded the Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. Most recently, he was a co-writer on the Vietnam episodes of This Is Us. Raised in Minnesota, he now lives in Austin, Texas.
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