Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Star Rating :  5 out of 5
Content Rating : HIGH

Back Cover :
They carried malaria tablets, love letters, 28-pound mine detectors, dope, illustrated bibles, each other. And if they made it home alive, they carried unrelenting images of a nightmarish war that history is only beginning to absorb. Since its first publication, The Things They Carried has become an unparalleled Vietnam testament, a classic work of American literature, and a profound study of men at war that illuminates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul.

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.”

My Thoughts :
Hello everyone! I am back! I’ve been super busy with school, work and traveling. I have not had time to read hardly any books besides those read for classes. But I’m back now! And I’m back with an amazing book.

The Things They Carried is a classic that I haven’t had the chance to read. I finally decided to pick it up again after a failed reading attempt last summer. It’s odd to say that I enjoy this book because there is so much tragedy in it. Little things just ripped me open and had me almost instantly crying. There’s one sentence in particular that really got me thinking. “It was very sad, he thought. The things men carried inside. The things men did or felt they had to do.” I literally had to stop reading after I read that part. I just sat and thought for a while. Which is another reason it took me so long to actually finish this book, because it’s a lot to take in.

I did not grow up hearing war stories from my grandfathers or have relatives in the military. The military was always something that never hit close to home. After I came to college, I now know more people connected with the military than I thought possible. I think that was another reason I wanted to read this book; I wanted to learn more and be more educated about how it felt. And, honestly, it sometimes drained me to read this book. But it is necessary and I would absolutely recommend it to people.

I rate this as HIGH. I say high school and up. Maybe even 18 and up. The language is harsh and there is a lot of violence. The events that happen, while not completely true, are still slightly disturbing.

What I liked :

  • The Writing - I love that it’s written in several short stories instead of a chronological timeline. It makes it seem more real; because, war is real and messy and doesn’t always make sense.
  • The Characters - I feel like most of the characters are exaggerated versions of people O’Brien actually knew while over in Vietnam. All of them are real and raw and written about so well. O’Brien skillfully reveals so many side effects of that war that people just don’t talk about.
  • The Realness - There’s a paragraph where O’Brien talks about war stories and how they don’t have any moral. He says that you should not feel uplifted after hearing a war story because war itself is not uplifting. And that makes sense to me, even though I may not completely agree with it. War is awful, but the people fighting are amazing and uplifting. But I love O’Brien’s vulnerability and bluntness. Because I know that there are war stories that come back to civilians that are glorified and that have details that are hidden. Maybe we would all think differently if we knew everything.

What I didn’t like :

  •  There’s not really anything I didn’t like. Maybe how sad it made me?

What Others Are Saying :
"The best of these stories--and none is written with less than the sharp edge of honed vision--are memory and prophecy. These tell us not where we were but where we are, and perhaps where we will be. . . . It is an ultimate, indelible image of war in our time, and in time to come" -- Los Angeles Times
"The Things They Carried is as good as any piece of literature can get . . . It is controlled and wild, deep and tough, perceptive and shrewd." --Chicago Sun Times
"In prose that combines the sharp, unsentimental rhythms of Hemingway with gentler, more lyrical descriptions, Mr. O'Brien gives the reader a shockingly visceral sense of what it felt like to tramp through a booby-trapped jungle, carrying 20 pounds of supplies, 14 pounds of ammunition, along with radios, machine guns, assault rifles and grenades. . . . With 'The Things They Carried, Mr. O'Brien has written a vital, important book--a book that matters not only to the reader interested in Vietnam, but to anyone interested in the craft of writing as well." --Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"[B]elongs high on the list of best fiction about any war....crystallizes the Vietnam experience for everyone [and] exposes the nature of all war stories."--New York Times, "Books of the Century"

Reviewed by Lydia Jones

Get your copy at Amazon or Barnes and Noble

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