The Lives of the Dead

4月, 17, 2019

by Tim O’Brien, 1986, 1990


Tim O’Brien はベトナム戦争に従軍経験のある作家(本人は行きたくなかった)。彼自身を想起させるような、43歳の作家が主人公。幼い頃、ガールフレンドの死に直面した経験と、青年期に従軍した経験とを行ったり来たりしながら、「物語」が自分にとってどういう意味をもってきたのかを語る。

They’re all dead.  But in a story, which is a kind of dreaming, the dead sometimes smile and sit up and return to the world.

In a story, miracles can happen. … I needed that kind of miracle.


My dreams had become a secret meeting place, and in the weeks after she died I couldn’t wait to fall asleep at night.  I began going to be earlier and earlier, sometimes even in bright daylight.  My mother, I remember, finally asked about it at breakfast one morning.  “Timmy, what’s wrong?” she said, but all I could do was shrug and say, “Nothing. I just need sleep, that’s all.”  I didn’t dare tell the truth.  It was embarrassing, I suppose, but it was also a precious secret, like a magic trick, where if I tried to explain it, or even talk about it, the thrill and mystery would be gone.  I didn’t want to lose Linda.

戦争で村人の死体に直面したとき、先輩は主人公に “Go introduce yourself.  Nothing to be afraid about, just a nice old man.  Show a little respect for your elders.” と言って、死体相手に語りかけ、 乾杯する。着任早々の主人公と同様、私も最初は笑えないユーモアだと感じたが、仲間を失う場面になって変わった。ある人が死者に語りかけ、他の人が死者の声を演じる即興芝居は、彼らなりの葬式として機能している。

Mitchel Sanders smiled.  “There it is, my man, this chopper gonna take you up high and cool.  Gonna relax you.  Gonna alter your whole perspective on this sorry, sorry shit.”
We could almost see Ted Lavender’s dreamy blue eyes.  We could almost hear him.
“Roger that,” somebody said.  “I’m ready to fly.”

That’s what a story does.  The bodies are animated.  You make the dead talk.



Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash