Elise's Reviews > The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
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's review
Oct 16, 2007

it was amazing
Recommended for: please, everyone
Read in August, 2007

The Things They Carried are an effing, ineffable, honest-as-hell, thoughtful, thought-provoking set of Vietnam war stories. Beautiful, bowel tearing, heinous and poignant. O'Brian is an artist. Simple. Complete with instructions, How To Tell A True War Story:

"In any war story, but especially a true one, it's difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen...The pictures get jumbled; you tend to miss a lot. And then afterward, when you go to tell about it, there is always that surreal seemingness, which makes the story seem untrue, but which in fact represents the hard and exact truth as it seemed...

...True war stories do not generalize. They do not indulge in abstraction or analysis.

For example: War is hell. As moral declaration the old truism seems perfectly true, and yet because it abstracts, because it generalizes, I can't believe it with my stomach. Nothing turns inside.

It comes down to gut instinct. A true war story, if truly told, makes the stomach believe."

And Jesus, wait until you read the stories.

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