Emily's Reviews > The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
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Mar 08, 11

Read in September, 1991

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 is not quite as loveworn, but still it is cherished.

The beauty of this book lies not necessarily in the war stories at its center, but rather in the undulating, overlapping entanglements that are people's lives, in the act of using storytelling as a means of recapturing our histories, bringing the many facets of our so often fragmented selves forward into the present day. The lyrical poetry of O'Brien's writing combined with the brutality of Vietnam imagery is truly a shock, traumatizing yet powerfully beautiful in its way, and the force of language itself is a revelation.

As O'Brien writes, "The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head."
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Steve Nice write up. You know, I can't believe I've never read this. It's the sort of thing I normally jump right on. I think this is probably due to my earlier reading of the author's Going After Cacciato. It's not a bad book, I just wasn't blown away. But by the tiem The Things They Carried came out, I might of just been burned out w/ Vietnam fiction, films, history, etc., and it passed me by. Thanks for your thoughts on this.


Malyanah I'm very impressed of your college crush lost. It's like the line where the narrator lost his first girlfriend because of brain tumor. It's a bit similar to your story.
I really like this book a lot. It is one of my favorite book that I have ever read.


Rina Nicely put. I really liked this book too, and I love the way you stated how The beauty of this book lies in the undulating, overlapping entanglement of people's lives. I think that is very true.


message 4: by Bungz (new) - added it

Bungz I don't know who recommended this book to me. I have the habit of adding books to my to-read list when people recommend and i end up liking the recommendation.

Anyways, the point is, your review has further inspired me to read this one.

p.s. - What an interesting name for a used book store?! Love it.


Brooke Is it possible that I agree with you on every level? i had to read this for AP English but I'd read it again any dday. great book.


Arlind Fazliu I am loving it!!!


message 7: by Eve (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eve Stockton "in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head." Now that is rich. How did I miss that during my reading? Do you happen to remember which story this "verse" is in?


message 8: by Marie (new) - added it

Marie love the Bruised Apple :)


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