Ellen Lewis, April 8, 2009 (view all comments by Ellen Lewis)
This is an amazing book of short stories about the Vietnam War -- brutal and beautiful and true. "The Things They Carried" is the name of the collection, but also of one of the short stories within, and it's my favorite short story EVER -- bypassing even my beloved Raymond Carver's work for the number one spot. It's the kind of story that grabs you and shakes you and makes you look at the world different. What more can a reader ask?
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jba, February 6, 2009 (view all comments by jba)
At its simplest level, this aptly titled book is all about the things that the soldiers of Alpha Company carried with them into war—the personal burdens, the collective burdens and even humanity’s burdens. We learn about the physical items, both expected (weapon, ammunition, canteen, poncho) and unexpected (a girlfriend’s pantyhose, pictures, a journal). The author tells us about the emotional baggage as well (guilt, fear, anger, pride). Rather than tick off these things like a checklist, O’Brien builds context around them through gripping narrative. Civilian readers will get a taste of what it was like and the soldiers who have been there will remember…
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shiralunacy, August 7, 2007 (view all comments by shiralunacy)
Great writing leaves us at a loss for words, at least for a time, as soon as we try to describe how a book affected us. It is important to make the effort anyway, so here goes. Of all the ways in which The Things They Carried moved me, the main one is the way O?Brien captures, describes, transmits, the pain and force of the need felt by many soldiers to express the inexpressible, their experience of war. The pain is from knowing the attempt will most likely fail, but trying anyway. The book is about Vietnam in its particulars, but in its reach is about all war and the need to get across to somebody else, ?this is what it is like to be me, here, now,? knowing we might be blown to kingdom come a minute from now.
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uncle_loki, April 28, 2007 (view all comments by uncle_loki)
This book of short stories contains some of the most wonderful imagery I have ever read. If there is one thing Obrien does in his writting it is to convey the emotion and meaning of an experience deeply, on the gut level. It's more than just understanding what he is trying to communicate; the text seeps into you. Fantastic! I would also recomend Going After Cacciato.
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frozenones, February 1, 2007 (view all comments by frozenones)
In my college english class, this was a required reading. When I first read it, I was confused about the style in which it was written. Then, I read it again and I cried. I felt as if I were there with the guys, "humping" not only their physical weight, but their emotional weight as well. It is a wonderfully written book and should definately be required reading in ALL english classes. Tim O'Brien shines a light on a dark time in our nations history. Thank you Mr. O'Brien for not only your writing, but most importantly, for your serving. I as are my children are forever in your debt. Thank you to all of our brave men and women who proundly serve and keep us safe.
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by Rick Bass, The Dallas Morning News,
"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."
by Richmond Times-Dispatch,
"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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