The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried In Tim O Brien s Going After Cacciato a novel about the Vietnam War won the National Book Award In this his second work of fiction about Vietnam O Brien s unique artistic vision is again clear

In 1979, Tim O Brien s Going After Cacciato a novel about the Vietnam War won the National Book Award In this, his second work of fiction about Vietnam, O Brien s unique artistic vision is again clearly demonstrated Neither a novel nor a short story collection, it is an arc of fictional episodes, taking place in the childhoods of its characters, in the jungles of VieIn 1979, Tim O Brien s Going After Cacciato a novel about the Vietnam War won the National Book Award In this, his second work of fiction about Vietnam, O Brien s unique artistic vision is again clearly demonstrated Neither a novel nor a short story collection, it is an arc of fictional episodes, taking place in the childhoods of its characters, in the jungles of Vietnam and back home in America two decades later.

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The Things They Carried

  1. Tim O Brien matriculated at Macalester College Graduation in 1968 found him with a BA in political science and a draft notice.O Brien was against the war but reported for service and was sent to Vietnam with what has been called the unlucky Americal division due to its involvement in the My Lai massacre in 1968, an event which figures prominently in In the Lake of the Woods He was assigned to 3rd Platoon, A Company, 5th Battalion, 46th Infantry, as an infantry foot soldier O Brien s tour of duty was 1969 70.After Vietnam he became a graduate student at Harvard No doubt he was one of very few Vietnam veterans there at that time, much less Combat Infantry Badge CIB holders Having the opportunity to do an internship at the Washington Post, he eventually left Harvard to become a newspaper reporter O Brien s career as a reporter gave way to his fiction writing after publication of his memoir If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Send Me Home.Tim O Brien is now a visiting professor and endowed chair at Texas State University San Marcos formerly Southwest Texas State University where he teaches in the Creative Writing Program.

512 Reply to “The Things They Carried”

  1. It was in the spring of 2006 and I was on patrol in Kirkuk Iraq with a unit in the 101st Airborne I had my full battle rattle on helmet, body armor, vest with extra magazines, M4 We were in the Kurdish part of the city and it was a beautiful day in the bazaar I came to love the Kurdish people, they were hardworking and resilient Many people don t know this but a percentage of Kurdish folks are red headed No kidding, fair skin like me and RED hair It was the kind of day where in the back of our m [...]


  2. I first bought The Things They Carried at the Bruised Apple, a used bookstore and coffee shop in downtown Peekskill, New York, back in 1991 when I was fifteen years old By the time I graduated from high school a few years later I d read it so often that the pages, already brittle, were nearly worn through, entire sections underlined in pencil Loaned out and lost to a college crush years ago, a dear friend bought me a replacement copy awhile back signed to me by Tim O Brien himself This new copy [...]


  3. Awestruck may be the best way to describe how I felt upon reading this book the first time So how did I feel upon reading it the second time I just want to bow at Tim O Brien s feet while muttering a Wayne s World style I m not worthy, I m not worthy Using non linear narrative and stringing together seemingly unrelated stories into one ultimately cohesive work, O Brien achieves something that traditional narrative never could his work reflects the emotional truth of what it was like to be a sold [...]


  4. The Things They Carried reads like a confession, which, I suppose, in many ways it is War is a theme in so many books, be they historical fiction, memoirs, alternate histories and I ve certainly read my fair share of them But stretching my mind back over the years right now, I struggle to recall one that has affected me quite so much Perhaps I would put it on equal footing with Drakulic s S a heartbreakng novel about the treatment of women in the female war camps during the Bosnian war But the m [...]


  5. These connected stories are about young men in their late teens and early twenties doing their best to carry the weight of a brutal war on their shoulders, along with dozens of pounds of field kit and weaponry They carry so much weight it is hard to even imagine how they could walk the miles they did, crossing rivers, muddy streams, up hills and down into valleys, somehow placing one foot in front of the other while their eyes and ears scan for danger.The equipment is not all they carry Some car [...]


  6. I ve read reviews of this seen this book pass me by at the library, but for some reason was always reluctant to read Why Maybe just hits a little to close to home, knew many of my friends brothers who served, some lived, some of course did not My own husband was in the Air Force at this time, not sent to Vietnam, and not yet my husband, still just a friend He did though unload the bodies of returning soldiers who did not make it through their service It was thankfully near the end of the war.Yea [...]


  7. It d be a bad idea to challenge Tim O Brien to a round of Truth Or Dare because he d find a way to pick Truth, launch into a story, recant it, then make you think he really chose Dare, but in the end, you ll be pretty sure he actually told you the Truth after all Maybe That s kind of the point about this account of his time Vietnam as an infantry soldier that warns us that war stories are tricky The ones that sound true are probably lies and the ones that seem outlandish probably have a healthy [...]


  8. See But wait way down below and sometimes I can see Timmy skating with Linda under the yellow floodlights I m young and happy I ll never die I m skimming across the surface of my own history, moving fast, riding the melt beneath the blades, doing loops and spins, and when I take a high leap into the dark and come down thirty years later, I realize it is as Tim trying to save Timmy s life with a story.That s the last 71 words of Tim O Brien s The Things They Carried Timmy is Tim O Brien or maybe [...]


  9. I took a short story writing class for kicks a while back On the first day, the professor recommended two books Mystery and Manners by Flannery O Connor and this book by Tim O Brien I promptly bought both Then I just as promptly set them aside to read something flashy I am glad I waited until after the class to read this one Otherwise, I would have quit the class immediately and never written so much as a grocery list ever again This book is genius The story about the girl with a necklace of ton [...]


  10. Admired Tim O Brien s writing since I first read Going after Cacciato several years ago that book has long been one of my favorites The Things They Carried is a different kind of book, but it shares with Going after Cacciato a powerful sense of how it feels for a soldier to be at war O Brien doesn t debate the merits of the Vietnam War, but thoughtfully speaks about the burdens, hopes and fears the soldiers in Alpha Company bore thus the title of the book In many cases, these burdens didn t end [...]


  11. This is one of the most important books I ve read not only this year, but of all time Absolutely captivating filled with quotes on EVERY page that make me stop and think This isn t just a book about war, it s a book about writing about tragedy and coming to terms with loss and PTSD and losing friends and every single story was meaningful and symbolic and just shocked me with the sheer amount of truth and power I know most people who say they ve read this read it for a class, but if you haven t p [...]


  12. The Things They Carried is so full of microburst storytelling that its shortcomings as a fully formed narrative are overcome Tim O Brien first published many of these chapters as short stories Speaking of Courage 1976 appeared in Massachusetts Review and won an O Henry Award in 1978 The Ghost Soldiers 1981 , The Things They Carried 1986 , How To Tell a True War Story 1987 , The Lives of the Dead 1987 and Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong 1989 appeared in Esquire In the Field 1989 in Gentleman s Qu [...]


  13. It s time to be blunt I m forty three years old, true, and I m a writer now, and a long time ago I walked through Quang Ngai Province as a foot soldier Almost everything else is invented I want you to feel what I felt I want you to know why story truth is truer sometimes than happening truth Tim O Brien s The Things They Carried has sat on my bookshelf for years Maybe since high school, meaning that it has sat on various shelves, in various rooms, in various states, for almost twenty years I hav [...]


  14. What makes a good war story How much needs to be true for it to feel real Tim O Brien s The Things They Carried is a powerful, heartbreaking and gut wrenching book about the Vietnam war I had previously read the title story, which is excellent on its own, but I can thank the Ken Burns Lynn Novick documentary for pushing me to read the entire book O Brien was interviewed in their TV series, and his wartime experiences fueled his writing The Things They Carried isn t really a novel or memoir, it s [...]


  15. I ve read any number of books where the Vietnam War has featured large in the context of the central narrative I ve read a few fictional books that have been largely or wholly about the war itself, or the impacts of the war on the people caught up in it I ve even read one or two non fiction books which have sought to explain why the war was fought I do find this subject fascinating partly, I think, because I can t think of any military action the UK s recent history that has caused such a kick b [...]


  16. All the StarsThis book seemingly had three strikes against it, before I even cracked open the spine First off, as I ve stated numerous times before, I m not a fan of war stories And I especially don t care to revisit Vietnam, so soon after wading through King s Hearts in Atlantis Secondly, nonfiction is not my thing at all That dry, voiceless prose or lengthy expository info dumps, which seem to populate many works, are dead boring I d much rather be whisked away into some page turning adventur [...]


  17. The truth shall set you free.What about half truths Or a fictionalized version of the truth Tim O Brien, as a Vietnam vet and writer, makes no bones about the veracity of a war story I want you to feel what I felt I want you to know why story truth is truer sometimes than happening truth This book is an exercise in not only exorcising demons and coping with guilt and grief, but in how to write a narrative that weaves in and out of what could pass for truth or fiction, like a greased snake that y [...]


  18. Find all of my reviews at 52bookminimum You can tell a true war story by the way it never seems to end Not then, not ever I had every intention of reading this on Memorial Day, but once I started I began having feelings and y all know I try my best not to ever let that happen so I put it on the backburner Buuuuuuuut, since the library s Summer Reading Challenge is all about pushing your shelf, I knew I was going to have to finally bite the bullet and read this one.The Things They Carried isn t r [...]


  19. Technically speaking, The Things They Carried is extremely well written O Brien is a good, tight writer who knows how to weave a story But even while I admire his style and technique, I am put off by the emptiness and moral vacuum he leaves when his machine guns and grenades finish ripping open your insides While I wasn t looking for Sunday school platitudes from a book about Vietnam, I was looking for some reason, some sense which he could bring to bear after twenty years of writing and reflect [...]


  20. 4 tough to assign starsThere has been quite a few years that I have wanted to read this book As a child in the time this conflict was going on, I saw the news, I saw the bodies piling up, and I saw he tragedy of sending our young men into a zone where they became fodder for the enemy.The writing is impeccable, drawing you into the trials, the hardships, the death and destruction of mind, body, and souls that these young men of eighteen and up suffered Someone once said that war is hell and truly [...]


  21. The things they carried by Tim O Brien is a collection of twenty two stories chronicling the author s recollections of his time as a soldier in the Vietnam War About one third ways through the book I realised that this account was not entirely based on fact and that some of the stories were fiction and I did initially think that this was going to affect my ability to understand and gel with the characters and stories but I think the book was so well written that for me it seemed as if I was seei [...]


  22. A true war story is never moral It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done If a story seems moral, do not believe it If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie There is no rectitude whatsoever There is no virtue.This is a great book a [...]


  23. Audiobook narrated by Bryan Cranston 7h 47m All of us, I suppose, like to believe that in a moral emergency we will behave like the heroes of our youth, bravely and forthrightly, without thought of personal loss or discredit Certainly that was my conviction back in the summer of 1968 Tim O Brien a secret hero The Lone Ranger If the stakes ever became high enough if the evil were evil enough, if the good were good enough I would simply tap a secret reservoir of courage that had been accumulating [...]


  24. It was 1962, and I had moved away from home and found job as a car hop at the AW Travis Air Force base was close by Vietnam was raging.I brought a young soldier a couple of mama burgers, fries, and a root beer After his meal, he got out of his jeep and began walking to the back of the building, carrying a bundle of letters tied with a string That afternoon I was asked to take out the garbage, and just before dumping it, I saw the letters I gathered them up and carried them inside, hiding them in [...]


  25. War is hell, but that s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love War is nasty war is fun War is thrilling war is drudgery War makes you a man war makes you dead.Here, encapsulated in about 20 interconnected short stories, is everything I have ever heard about war.The hours of boredom and the seconds of sheer horror The way a life can end faster than the blink of an eye And just how ea [...]


  26. This is an extremely hard review for me to compile, because I am extremely conflicted on my impression of this book And I think this reflects the very nature of the stories presented to us in The Things They Carried They are conflicted, true, not true, true, not true Happening truth, story truth A maelstrom of fiction and non fiction that sometimes feels raw and poignant and sometimes feels exaggerated and fake.I gave it 4 stars, and yet sometimes I think it was 3 stars, and then at other times [...]


  27. O Brien is a gifted writer, and this is a powerful, beautifully written book The structure is episodes, short stories He begins with a piece about the objects each of the characters is carrying Then the stories go into each character in detail The tales are of war, and are compelling He also writes about writing and his observations are interesting Highly recommended.P 40 sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever That s what stories are for Stories are for those late hou [...]


  28. Powerful writing about being a soldier in Vietnam I, personally, had a friend once who was a marine there when he was 19 He lost both legs above the knees when he stepped on a land mine The guy next to me died he told me I killed him He couldn t see it any other way He stepped on the mine, his buddy died No matter that he nearly died himself, lost his legs, his testicle, his soul, his life as a functional human being, his sense of selfworth, his ability to feel he could live in the normal world [...]


  29. I could have easily have given this collection 5 stars The narrative is powerful, evocative and highly emotional, especially in the earlier stories included here The title piece is actually my favorite, and it is cunningly put as the opening gambit in this sequence of interconnected anecdotes about a group of American infantry soldiers in the Vietnam War Tim O Brien claims authority of the eyewitness, uses the confessional mode, puts the focus on the human element, and combines all these to make [...]


  30. I must confess my TBR pile has become of a hill in recent years Buried in that mound was The Things They Carried a highly recommended book that always seemed to get sidetracked whenever I planned to pull it out and give it a read Trust me, I m kicking myself for not getting to this sooner It was a rare treat, one where storytelling, substance, and craft come together in some very fine writing indeed This book is a collection of short stories about the unpopular Vietnam War, loosely or maybe act [...]


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