They carried heavy ponchos and lighter weapons; they carried rations and they carried M&Ms for particularly bad injuries. The things they carriedThey carried heavy ponchos and lighter weapons; they carried rations and they carried M&Ms for particularly bad injuries. The things they carried were brought because of necessity. They carried dope and illustrated Bibles, they carried photographs and letters, they carried fears, they carried ammunition, they carried hand grenades and they carried their hopes. They carried a weight issued in pounds and ounces and they carried the incalculable and inexorably palpable weight of the war. They carried each other.
When introduced, my English teacher noted the distinct similarities between the author and the main character of the novel (novel for brevity, as while the book is a collection of short stories, they are interconnected much in the same way as chapters in a novel, only they are also able to stand more or less alone). Both are named Tim O'Brien, both are writers of the same age, with the same hometown and the same books published; the book is dedicated to the men of the Alpha Company, men whose names are the same as those in the book. Undeniably there are parts of stories that are factually correct; equally there are portions that are fiction. The line is thin and blurred. "How to Tell a True War Story", perhaps a third of the way through, addresses why I avoid the word 'true'--all the stories are true, whether they happened or not. A true war story is not defined by whether or not it happened. The Things They Carried forces one to believe this, if nothing else. I read somewhere that it does no good to wonder which parts of fiction are 'true' and which are fabricated, not for the reader or for the writer--perhaps it was even speaking on this book--but I hadn't yet come to peace with the statement before reading the epitomic example of the fact. All stories within The Things They Carried are true, true enough to be believed in beyond any other war stories I have read, beyond certainly the old classic The Red Badge of Courage or the oft-cited greatest war novel of all time, All Quiet on the Western Front.
John Green wrote once that we don't remember what happened, "what we remember becomes what happened." Some of these stories have roots in real happenings, some more than others. Yet if I were offered a list of which stories, which facets were 'true' and which were false, I at least hope I would refuse, as without concrete data, all stories are equally 'true', all the stories have the potential to be fiction or fact, and this potential energy lends more to the blanket truthness of every story, even knowing some are less factual than others.
To backtrack slightly, The Things They Carried is something more than a collection of war stories; while centring on the war, before and during and after, there are love stories and there are stories about stories; one should never be dissuaded from reading The Things They Carried for reasons of pacifism, for a weak stomach, or for a childish hate of stories about wars. Perhaps it is not for everyone. Perhaps not everyone ought to read it.
Still, if you have ever told a story, read this book. If you have ever written a story, read this book; if you have ever wanted to write, read this book. If you have ever loved a friend, if you have ever loved and not been loved in return, if you have ever loved and found yourself loved back, read this book. If you have ever felt hopeless, read this book; read this book if you have ever tried to appear strong. If you have ever hated, read this book, and if you have not, read this book. If you have ever thought life a paradox, read this book. If you have come to realise that the truth resists simplicity, I implore you, read this book....more
There are a lot of good things about the book. There are a couple less brilliant things: primarily, it's not terribly "original"Four and a half stars.
There are a lot of good things about the book. There are a couple less brilliant things: primarily, it's not terribly "original"; at least, it isn't original in the way I would generally praise books for being. It's a usual archetypal journey. Truly, while it is relatively enjoyable to read (for someone like me, who is growing more and more to appreciate war novels with this dear old English teacher of mine assigning all war novels all semester), its largest benefit is the amount of thought that one can pour into it. The book lends itself to analysis, which is I'm sure at least part of why it's in so many English curriculums. I probably wouldn't have picked it up to read in my spare time--I don't generally give books weeks to marinate in analytical juices--but as an English class read, I was very happy with it....more
Enjoyed quite a lot. Couldn't really work out if there's a climax or not, but it's a quick read (finished in about half an English class), the drawingEnjoyed quite a lot. Couldn't really work out if there's a climax or not, but it's a quick read (finished in about half an English class), the drawings are good (though not my favourite). Mostly I found the characters very deep and interesting, and the events were woven together beautifully....more
A fast-paced, witty play set in early 20th century London. Liza and Henry are both intriguing leads, enjoyable to read about. The play is also enjoyabA fast-paced, witty play set in early 20th century London. Liza and Henry are both intriguing leads, enjoyable to read about. The play is also enjoyable to read aloud as my English teacher instructed us to, though our Henry was more than a tad lackluster (i.e. drove us all mad).
Aside from the first act, the drama neatly finds ways to skip over important events and squish a brief oral synopsis of them in (often less important) scenes. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, merely helps speed it along, although the end is a bit disappointing. Rather than actually play it out, there's a long and almost preachy explanation of what happened after Act V. Again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing... but it reads as fluently in English to a sole English-speaker as it would in Scandinavian to the same person. Or at least French.
Overall though, an excellent read, and I can't wait to put on the play later this week....more