Herr and O’Brien Vs. Vietnam and Objectivity
When reading selected short stories, novels, and plays from any literary time period, there is always a number of patterns that can be spotted in the subject matter that the writers of the time choose to discuss in their stories. During what is generally referred to as the “post-modern” literary movement, which is usually considered to be from after the Second World War until present day, an obvious subject is the Vietnam War. There have been many different interpretations of this event through the years. Many of the big writers who covered the Vietnam War had different ways of telling the story but the most successful ones told the stories subjectively rather than objectively. Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and Michael Herr’s Dispatches share styles that are similar in the way that they both focus on telling their stories in a way that makes war seem terrible and not inspiring unlike the war time writers of the past, but they also have some differences in how they went about structuring their stories.
Dispatches stood out among the floods of other war novels at the time because of the number of obvious differences in Herr’s style of writing and compiling the book. Herr, a journalist during the time of the War in Vietnam, was paid by Esquire magazine to go to Vietnam and take in all of the experiences. He was not required to submit any articles and was not burdened by any type of deadlines. Therefore he did much less during actual wartime than he did about 10 years afterwards when he published his book Dispatches in 1977. Herr basically compiled all of his notes and feeling that he had written down while he was in Vietnam and made a book out of them. This style is what is now referred to as “New Journalism,” which is news writing during the 1960s and 70s mostly that used unconventional literary elements at the time to share news. These “New Journalism” works were generally not put into newspapers but were...
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