"A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things they have always done." -Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried
"You can tell a true war story by the questions you ask. Somebody tells a story, let's say, and afterward you ask, 'Is it true?' and if the answer matters, you've got your answer.
"You'd feel cheated if it never happened. Without the grounding reality, it's just a trite bit of puffery, pure
"Often in a true war story there is not even a point, or else the point doesn’t hit you until, say, twenty years later, in your sleep, and you wake up and shake your wife and start telling the story to her, except when you get to the end you’ve forgotten the point again. And then for a long time you lie there watching the story happen in your head. You listen to your wife’s breathing. The war’s over. You close your eyes. You smile and think, Christ, what’s the point?"
Read Tim O'Brien's books. Buy them here and here.