Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" is a haunting collection of stories about soldiers in Vietnam and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. "Going After Cacciato," his 1978 novel about a soldier who decides to walk away from the war -- all the way to Paris -- won the National Book Award. "If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home" was called the single greatest work to come out of the Vietnam War. War and its endless, eternal ramifications has been a constant theme in the work of O'Brien, a native of Austin, Minn. And for that body of work he was awarded Wednesday the Dayton Literary Peace Prize's annual lifetime achievement award. The prize "promotes the cause of peace by helping people understand the ugly realities of war on a deep, personal level, which is exactly what I strive to do in my work," O'Brien said. "Over what has been a long career, this award means more to me than any other -- by far." O'Brien, 65, lives and teaches in Texas. He set several of his books in Minnesota -- "Northern Lights," and "In the Lake of the Woods" -- but always the specter of Vietnam and war was deeply present. The Dayton prize was launched in 2006. Last year, it was renamed the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award in honor of the diplomat who brokered the 1995 peace accords on Bosnia. Previous winners include Barbara Kingsolver, Studs Terkel and Elie Wiesel. O'Brien will receive $10,000. The award will be given on Nov. 11 in Dayton, Ohio.
LAURIE HERTZELChappelle at State Theatre - today
TV funnyman Dave Chappelle is doing a rare comedy concert in Minneapolis on Thursday at the State Theatre. Tickets are expected to sell out quickly, as they have elsewhere where he has done these guerrilla concerts. Chappelle had a highly successful three-year run of his eponymous show on Comedy Central starting in 2003. He famously, and abruptly, quit the business when TV officials offered him a contract that he considered mind-bogglingly rich. He will perform at 9 p.m. at the State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Av. S. Get tickets, at $54, at 1-800-745-3000.
NEW CAREER? Katie Couric joined Jimmy Buffett as a backup singer for several songs Tuesday during a concert in Noblesville, Ind. Buffett said he thinks her performance "could be a career-starting move." But she has other plans. She'll launch a daytime talk show titled "Katie" on Sept. 10.
HELP FROM REESE: Where's Robert Pattinson? After leaving the house he shared with Kristen Stewart over her cheating scandal, he turned to his "Water for Elephants" co-star Reese Witherspoon, 36, for help. She offered up her $7 million vacation ranch in Ojai, Calif., for a private retreat.
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