Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: The Things They Carried

The Things They CarriedThe 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.

8 comments:

  1. Bee, seems like you have found a couple of good ones back to back! Love it when that happens!!

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  2. I've heard of this book and I might have even picked it up once and scanned through it. I should read it. My brother was in that war and returned Ok. good review.

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  3. I usually don't seek out short stories, but I've enjoyed reading them recently! This sounds like a good collection. I'm amazed at how much you read, Bee! :)

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  4. I know, finally! I was in a slump of reading books that weren't necessarily bad, but just that I didn't particularly like back-to-back!

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  5. It's a pretty quick read. I really liked it. I'm glad your brother came home OK.

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  6. Neither do I, until I started writing them! lol This was a pretty quick read, as was the book I read immediately after. I just put off writing the reviews. Hehe.

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  7. I read this book forever ago and don't remember what happened. I should re-read it.

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  8. Most of the stories take place in Vietnam, so that got a little tiring to me after a while, but the storytelling is really good. I'd say it's worth a re-read.

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Thanks for your comments! I always reply back.