The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Goodreads description: A classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, The Things They Carried is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling. The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O'Brien, who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three. Taught everywhere from high school classrooms to graduate seminars in creative writing, it has become required reading for any American and continues to challenge readers in their perceptions of fact and fiction, war and peace, courage and fear and longing.
The Things They Carried is a collection of short stories about a group of men in Alpha Company and their experiences in Vietnam. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderfully written these stories are. Granted, I’m not a fan of Vietnam War literature, but O’Brien’s writing is just that good. The title story was used in the two fiction classes I’ve taken so far in order to teach how objects can define a character. O’Brien uses this technique really well.
I think two of the stories take place outside of Vietnam: one before the author’s character, also named Tim O’Brien (I know, it’s kind of confusing), goes to war and the other that takes place after the war in one of the characters’ hometowns. Those two are my favorite because one deals with making a decision that alters the course of your life, while the other depicts a war vet who no longer feels comfortable back home.
Highly recommend this to anyone who loves short stories and anyone who wants to write fiction. Also, this was the Fall 2003 selection for One Book, One Chicago.