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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. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide. The Things They Carried book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. In , Tim O'Brien's Going After Cacciato - a novel a.

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The Things They Carried () is a collection of linked short stories by American novelist Tim O'Brien, about a platoon of American soldiers fighting on the ground in the Vietnam War. His third book about the war, it is based upon his experiences as a soldier in. The things they carried were largely determined by necessity. Rat Kiley carried comic books. Kiowa and comic books and all the things a medic must carry. The Things They Carried is a collection of short stories by Tim O'Brien that Read a Plot Overview of the entire book or a story by story Summary and Analysis.

Meredith O'Brien In war, there are no winners. When you're really really thirsty and you're drinking paddy water, the mind will lock on a can of cold Coke the way your mind might, you know, back in high school, have locked on a pretty girl. They "bring such fervor to it that comes from their own lives, really. The book is And these are the things they're carrying.

If anything, it is a better book. The novel is held together by two things: O'Brien's stories are like nobody else's. His blend of poetic realism and comic fantasy remains unique. In short, critics really can't account for O'Brien at all. At least in part that's because his Vietnam stories are really about the yearning for peace--aimed at human understanding rather than some 'definitive' understanding of the war.

Just by imagining stories that never happened, and embroidering upon some that did, O'Brien can bring it all back. He can feel the terror and the sorrow and the crazy, jagged laughter. He can bring the dead back to life. And bring back the dreaming, too. O'Brien again shows his literary stuff. An acutely painful reading experience, this collection should be read as a book and not a mere collection of stories. Not since Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five has the American soldier been portrayed with such poignance and sincerity.

You'll rarely read anything as real as this. Louis Post-Dispatch "Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried carries not only the soldiers' intangible burdens-grief, terror, love, longing--but also the weight of memory, the terrible gravity of guilt. It carries them, though, with a lovely, stirring grace, because it is as much about the redemptive power of stories as it is about Vietnam. The prose ranges from staccato soldierly thoughts to raw depictions of violent death to intense personal ruminations by the author that don't appear to be fictional at all.

Just when you thought there was nothing left to say about the Vietnam experience. Richly wrought and filled with war's paradoxes, The Things They Carried will reward a second, or even a third, reading. His ambitious, modernistic fable, Going After Cacciato, raised the American war novel to new artistic realms. The Things They Carried is also astonishing-in a whole new way. In The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien expertly fires off tracer rounds, illuminating the art of war in all its horrible and fascinating complexity, detailing the mad and the mundane.

O'Brien is a superb prose stylist, perhaps the best among Vietnam War novelists. The imaginative retelling of the war is just as real as the war itself, maybe more so, and experiencing these narratives can be powerfully cathartic for writer and reader alike.

NEA Big Read

The writing is as clear as one of his northern Minnesota lakes. The Things They Carried charts out a lot of emotional territory, gripping the reader from beginning to end. This is one of those books you should read. It is also one of those books you'll be glad you did. This book--and these lives--will live for a long time. And plays. And books.

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O'Brien's vision is unique. All of us, by holding O'Brien's stories in our hands, can approach Vietnam and truth. His prose is simply magnificent. Go out and get this book and read it. Read it slowly, and let O'Brien's masterful storytelling and his eloquent philosophizing about the nature of war wash over you.

The Things They Carried is a major work of literary imagination. The Things They Carried is an accomplished, gentle, lovely book. Beautifully honest. Kipen: Lasting from until , the Vietnam War is the longest military conflict in U. Friedman: In the course of the war, two million Americans were drafted and sent to Vietnam. Kipen: Max Paul Friedman. Friedman: Draftees who hadn't expected to be in the military were then sent to a strange and distant land with very trying physical circumstances, and asked to carry out a task that was not possible, for a purpose that their government could not explain to them in a satisfying way.

These are the men that Tim O'Brien writes about so effectively. Kipen: Andrew Carroll. Caroll: This is a book that O'Brien wrote actually decades after he served in Vietnam as an infantry soldier, he was wounded. He calls it a work of fiction, but yet it's very clearly based on his experiences in Vietnam. Although he opposed the war, he reported for military service, and in February of , was sent to Vietnam. When he returned home, after a stint in graduate school, he became a reporter for the Washington Post.

Although Vietnam and its aftermath continued to be his subject, he turned from non-fiction to fiction, winning the National Book Award in for Going After Cacciato, a novel about a soldier in Vietnam who attempts to walk from southeast Asia to Paris. Significantly, The Things They Carried is a work of fiction presented as a memoir, and it's one that keeps differentiating between the truth and the facts. O'Brien: There is a reason that fiction exists, and why don't we just tell the literal truth about everything, why does anybody make anything up?

In fiction you can write about what almost happened but didn't happen, or you can write about what could've happened. I mean, I could've walked away from the Vietnam War and gone to Canada. I didn't, but I could've.

Samantha Chang: I think that Tim O'Brien, having been a soldier in the Vietnam War, understood what he was beginning to write The Things They Carried that on some level he would have to persuade and convince people whose experiences hadn't taken them anywhere close to Vietnam.

O'Brien: Even though I knew it would be largely invented I wanted to make it feel true in the literal sense, real, as if when we're reading a memoir, a work of nonfiction. Kipen: And that's exactly what he did.

The things they carried were largely determined by necessity. Among the necessities or near-necessities were P can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water.

Together, these items weighed between 15 and 20 pounds, depending upon a man's habits or rate of metabolism. Henry Dobbins, who was a big man, carried extra rations; he was especially fond of canned peaches in heavy syrup over pound cake. By necessity, and because it was SOP, they all carried steel helmets that weighed 5 pounds including the liner and camouflage cover.

Kipen: Poet E. Ethelbert Miller. Ethelbert Miller I think the opening pages of Tim O'Brien's book is like a list poem of all the various things that a soldier would carry, you know, down to the actual weight. Kipen: Richard Currey. Kipen: A former captain in the U. Army, Craig Mullaney served in Afghanistan from to He carried a strobe light, and the responsibility for the lives of his men. Currey: We begin to see that what these young men are carrying is, is memory, is their capacity to understand or not understand what's about to happen to them, their ability to fathom the nature of the experience that they're sharing.

Mullaney: Each of them has a part of them that's distracted, that's, that's always home.

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You're in two places at once. And that's part of the things they carried. They carry home with them. They carry their memories. They carry their hopes. It's certainly true to my experience as well.

The Things They Carried

Kipen: Craig Mullaney. Mullaney: You know, a book like this could allow me to have a running conversation with someone who'd, who'd walked in my boots before, and to know that I wasn't alone. Because the land was mined and booby-trapped, it was SOP for each man to carry a steel-centered, nylon-covered flak jacket, which weighed 6.

Because you could die so quickly, each man carried at least one large compress bandage, usually in the helmet band for easy access. Because the nights were cold, and because the monsoons were wet, each carried a green plastic poncho that could be used as a raincoat or groundsheet or makeshift tent.

With its quilted liner, the poncho weighed almost 2 pounds, but it was worth every ounce. In April, for instance, when Ted Lavender was shot, they used his poncho to wrap him up, then to carry him across the paddy, then to lift him into the chopper that took him away. Kipen: The media played an enormous role in America's perception of the Vietnam War. Given virtually unlimited access to the entire country, journalists could and did bring the war home with unprecedented realism.

Writer Alice McDermott. Alice McDermott: I recall so vividly the faces of the soldiers in Vietnam that we saw almost, it seemed to me, on a daily basis in newspapers, on television. We didn't just see their official photographs, if they had been killed, printed in the paper, we saw kids on stretchers being hustled out of the jungle.

Friedman: And so the media brought home the reality of how the war was going to an American public that had no access to that information otherwise.

That was important because Americans were becoming increasingly interested in what was happening in Vietnam.

The Things They Carried

Kipen: Often for the men who served, the extensive media coverage couldn't quite convey the experience in Vietnam, in-country. O'Brien: The goal of The Things They Carried is to, in a large part, is to make readers feel something of what I felt all those years ago and after returning from the war, in a way that a thirty second clip on CNN can't and doesn't aspire to.

The way newspaper stories are not gonna make you feel what it is to be frustrated by never being able to find the enemy, and having man after man die and another man die, and another man lose his legs, and you can't find anything to shoot back at, and you don't believe in the war anyway. Kipen: As the fighting dragged on, many Americans began to question both the success and the goals of the war.

'The Things They Carried,' 20 Years On

On one hand, the official word from Washington, D. Max Paul Friedman. Friedman: For one thing it was very difficult to measure success. In a war without front lines how do you quantify how well you are doing? Well, the Pentagon came up with a quantifiable measure, which was the number of enemy killed, the famous body counts.

The first time, he is treated by Rat Kiley, and is impressed with the man's courage and skill. The second time, he is treated by Kiley's replacement, Bobby Jorgenson; Jorgenson is incompetent, and nearly kills O'Brien.

Furious, O'Brien promises revenge, but can recruit only Azar. They scare Jorgenson by pretending to be enemy soldiers, but the soldier proves that he is not a coward, so O'Brien lets go of his resentment. O'Brien tells the second-hand account of Rat Kiley's injury: Kiley reacts by distancing himself, the stress causing him first to be silent for days on end, and then to talk constantly.

He has a breakdown from the pressure of being a medic, and shoots himself in the toe in order to get released from combat. No one questions his bravery. O'Brien remembers his very first encounter with a dead body, that of his childhood sweetheart Linda.

Suffering from a brain tumor, Linda died at the age of nine and O'Brien was deeply affected by her funeral. In Vietnam, O'Brien explains, the soldiers keep the dead alive by telling stories about them; in this way, he keeps Linda alive by telling her story. In the short story "Good Form," the narrator makes a distinction between "story truth" and "happening truth.

Critics often cite this distinction when commenting on O'Brien's artistic aims in The Things They Carried and, in general, all of his fiction about Vietnam, claiming that O'Brien feels that the realities of the Vietnam War are best explored in fictional form rather than the presentation of precise facts.

O'Brien's fluid and elliptical negotiation of truth in this context finds echoes in works labeled as ' non-fiction novels '. The fine line of what constitutes fiction versus non-fiction is blurred throughout the book, for though Tim O'Brien claims this book to be fiction, the author and the protagonist share the same name and same profession as writers. Additionally, the character Tim references writing the book Going After Cacciato which the author Tim had written and published previously.

The theme of believing in the people around you and having reliable people with you comes from the time period being filled with people who are opposed to the action of war.

This causes the people who are drafted into the mutual hate to band together to live. The legal rights to adapt the book into a play were awarded to James R. The song alludes to the "Stockings" chapter from the book and references Henry Dobbins and his girlfriend's stockings, which he ties around his neck to keep him from harm.

Lyrics such as,"And when the bullets came, he didn't duck; He wrapped her pantyhose around his neck; And he could feel their magic working; Keeping him from harm; Away to some place mystical and warm; His lucky charm" clearly references to Dobbins and his tactic that the scent of his girlfriend's stockings protect him and take him some place far from Vietnam. Before the book's publication in , five of the stories: The Things They Carried has received critical acclaim and has been established as one of the preeminent pieces of Vietnam War literature.

O'Brien has expressed surprise at how the book has become a staple in middle schools and high schools, stating that he "certainly hadn't imagined fourteen year-old kids and eighteen year-olds and those even in their early twenties reading the book and bringing such fervor to it, which comes from their own lives, really.

The book is applied to a bad childhood or a broken home, and these are the things they're carrying. And in a way, it's extremely flattering, and other times, it can be depressing. In , the book was included in site. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Find sources: Twayne Publishers, The English Journal. Retrieved April 2, Retrieved Exploring U. The Contemporary American Short-story Cycle: