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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »

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The Things They Carried

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The Things They Carried Cover

ISBN13: 9780767902892
ISBN10: 0767902890
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

One of the first questions people ask about The Things They Carried is this: is it a novel, or a collection of short stories? The title page refers to the book simply as "a work of fiction," defying the conscientious reader's need to categorize this masterpiece. It is both: a collection of interrelated short pieces which ultimately reads with the dramatic force and tension of a novel. Yet each one of the 22 short pieces is written with such care, emotional content, and prosaic precision that it could stand on its own.

The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and, of course, the character Tim O'Brien who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of 43. They battle the enemy (or maybe more the idea of the enemy), and occasionally each other. In their relationships we see their isolation and loneliness, their rage and fear. They miss their families, their girlfriends and buddies; they miss the lives they left back home. Yet they find sympathy and kindness for strangers (the old man who leads them unscathed through the mine field, the girl who grieves while she dances), and love for each other, because in Vietnam they are the only family they have. We hear the voices of the men and build images upon their dialogue. The way they tell stories about others, we hear them telling stories about themselves.

With the creative verve of the greatest fiction and the intimacy of a searing autobiography, The Things They Carried is a testament to the men who risked their lives in America's most controversial war. It is also a mirror held up to the frailty of humanity. Ultimately The Things They Carried and its myriad protagonists call to order the courage, determination, and luck we all need to survive.

Review:

"I've got to make you read this book....In a world filled too often with numbness, or shifting values, these stories shine in a strange and opposite direction, moving against the flow, illuminating life's wonder." Rick Bass, The Dallas Morning News

Review:

"The Things They Carried is more than 'another' book about Vietnam....It is a master stroke of form and imagery....The Things They Carried is about life, about men who [fight] and die, about buddies, and about a lost innocence that might be recaptured through the memory of stories. O'Brien tells us these stories because he must. He tells them as they have never been told before." Richmond Times-Dispatch

About the Author

A native of Worthington, Minnesota, Tim O'Brien graduated in 1968 from Macalester College in St. Paul. He served as a foot soldier in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970, after which he pursued graduate studies in Government at Harvard University, then later worked as a national affairs reporter for the Washington Post. He now lives in Massachusetts.

Other books by Tim O'Brien include If I Die in a Combat Zone Box Me Up and Ship Me Home, Going After Cacciato, Northern Lights, The Nuclear Age, and In the Lake of the Woods. Going After Cacciato won the National Book Award in 1979. In the Lake of the Woods won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the society of American Historians and was selected as the best novel of 1994 by Time magazine. His latest novel, Tomcat in Love (1998), is published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House.

Table of Contents

The Things They Carried

Love

Spin

On the Rainy River

Enemies

Friends

How to Tell a True War Story

The Dentist

Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong

Stockings

Church

The Man I Killed

Ambush

Style

Speaking of Courage

Notes

In the Field

Good Form

Field Trip

The Ghost Soldiers

Night Life

The Lives of the Dead

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 11 comments:

GreatFish, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by GreatFish)
It took me nearly two months to have the mental and emotional power to pick up another book after reading The Things They Carried. I tried. I even tried over and over to read other Tim O'Brien books. But I was overcome by the poetry, the grandeur, the skill, the power of this book. I didn't want to read anything else. It penetrated deeply into a place in my spirit. For a while I worried I'd never read another book again.

I didn't go to Vietnam. I wasn't even alive at the time. Many people have written on the subject. Movies have been made. None of them have made me really understand what happened there. I'm sure my knowledge of what happened is still minute. But Mr. O'Brien made me feel. The emotion in his stories touched me deeply. They moved me. I'd say this book even changed me. It's a wonder and a tragedy that human beings pass through the things they do. Tim O'Brien helped me feel for a couple hundred pages the humor, the pain, the guilt, the agony, the shame of Vietnam. The stories weave together to create one singing piece of beautiful and painful poetry. It's gorgeous. This is very high on my list of best books I've ever read.
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(6 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
Richard Bauer, January 31, 2012 (view all comments by Richard Bauer)
This is a collection of stories about Vietnam. It was a painful read. There was a
wonderful part where he wrote about a guy who just graduated from college and got
drafted. He had a couple months before he had to report for duty. O'Brien did a
great job of articulating the bewildering emotions of that guy as his time
approached. I related because I got drafted and went nuts trying to get out of it.
Reading this book brought back how slow time passed and how pissed off and outraged
I felt. It also underscored how anti-war mainstream American society was at that
time.

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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
NTN, March 5, 2011 (view all comments by NTN)
I just finish reading this book in my Junior English 3 class. At first we read it, it was boring but as the story goes on it starts getting better. This book contains many short stories about the author going to war. Hope you guys enjoy this book if you guys get a chance to read it.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780767902892
Author:
O'Brien, Tim
Publisher:
Broadway
Location:
New York :
Subject:
General
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
War
Subject:
Vietnamese conflict, 1961-1975
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Veterans
Subject:
Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Subject:
Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 -- Fiction.
Subject:
Vietnamese Conflict, 19
Subject:
War & Military
Subject:
General Fiction
Copyright:
Edition Description:
1st Broadway Books trade paperback ed.
Series Volume:
no. 11
Publication Date:
19981229
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
7.91 x 5.25 x .7 in .5 lb

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The Things They Carried Used Trade Paper
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$5.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Broadway Books - English 9780767902892 Reviews:
"Review" by , "I've got to make you read this book....In a world filled too often with numbness, or shifting values, these stories shine in a strange and opposite direction, moving against the flow, illuminating life's wonder."
"Review" by , "The Things They Carried is more than 'another' book about Vietnam....It is a master stroke of form and imagery....The Things They Carried is about life, about men who [fight] and die, about buddies, and about a lost innocence that might be recaptured through the memory of stories. O'Brien tells us these stories because he must. He tells them as they have never been told before."
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