Author Tim O’Brien to Speak at UM

October 20, 2014

MISSOULA – National Book Award-winner Tim O’Brien will speak about his book “The Things They Carried” at the University of Montana as part of the 2014 First-Year Reading Experience and Missoula Public Library’s The Big Read program.

Free and open to the public, the talk will begin at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, in the George and Jane Dennison Theatre.

“The Things They Carried” is a collection of short stories about a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War. It first was published in 1990. In 2005, The New York Times named it one of the 22 best books of the last quarter century. The book earned the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award in fiction and was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The First-Year Reading Experience provides incoming freshmen with a shared intellectual experience to encourage discussion, advance critical thinking and develop a sense of community. O’Brien’s book, available for purchase at The Bookstore at UM, has been used and referenced this semester in UM classes such as the Davidson Honors College and Writing 101.

This is the first time the University has partnered with the Missoula community to share a common read. The collaboration, which is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, offers students and community members common ground for meaningful discussion. Many community partners and sponsors offer programming, exhibits and other involvement opportunities to discuss the themes of the book.

UM freshmen are invited to participate in a writing contest based on the book. The students who write the winning analytical essay and personal reflection essay each will receive $250. The deadline for entries is Nov. 10.

O’Brien’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Esquire, Playboy, Harper’s Magazine and numerous editions of The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Best American Short Stories. His novels have sold more than 3.5 million copies and have been translated into more than 20 languages.

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Contact: Megan Stark, associate professor, UM Mansfield Library, 406-243-2864,