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The Things They Carried
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Previous Monthly Reads > Spoiler Thread: The Things The Carried

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

This is the spoiler thread for our February monthly read, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien.

I look forward to an in-depth discussion with you all.

Declan. :)


Gerry  M (placidcasual) The story about the little girl with the red cap keeps repeating in my mind. Very few things that I have read really got to me as much as the description of the girl putting on her smile as her classmates teased her about the cap and when the boy in the class removed it from her head.

Just brilliantly written stories that opened a door into the psyche of those who lived through the hell of the Vietnam War.


Rose (rosemendez) | 41 comments IMHO, I don't recall better "story-telling" than this book. It was so intimate. Like the stories cousins share at 2am after a couple of bottles of wine. It was heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

@Gerry. That story about little, nine-year-old Linda broke my heart. Not just her reaction, but also the description of the boy's changing smile when he realises how terrible a thing he's done.

@Rose. I totally agree. also love the he makes the statement 'A true war story, if truly told, makes the stomach believe,' and goes on to tell one that delivers. That takes some confidence as a writer, I feel.


Tara | 118 comments Totally agree with your comments, excellent writing and story-telling, will stay with me for a long time. There is so much to think about on a personal level as well as the experience of war. Talking about the story about the little girl, what's sticking with me is when Tim says he should have stepped in; fourth grade was no excuse ... "besides, it doesn't get easier with time, and tweleve years later, when Vietnam presented much harder choices, some practice at being brave might've helped a little". He also made a similar point earlier in the book (pg 38) about how we/he save up our courage as if being frugal with it earns interst and "we steadily increase our moral capital in preparation for that day when the account must be drawn down ... it offered hope and grace to the repetitive coward." What a profound observation and the book is full of them ... I think I will have to read it again sometime! ;-)


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I think I'll have to reread it too, Tara.

I like the little philosophical observations like that. I meant to mention the 'moral capital' section, but there are so many aspects to discuss in this little book that I'm kind of at a loss where to start.


Tara | 118 comments @Declan - Yes, exactly, I love books that make me question how I think about things. And as you mentioned in the other thread, I think this book would be a wonderful read for those in their final years at school. Ok, someone my age, with more life experience would probably get different things out of it but teenagers would also find much to identify with and discuss.

By the way, really enjoying this group and the friendly, interesting comments made my members. Good on you, Declan for making it work.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm glad you're enjoying the group, Tara. For whatever reason we just seem to attract members who add to the discussions and make it better. I don't know why that's so, but I can't take credit for it.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Jamie Lynn wrote: "Yes you can Declan. You are like a host of a nice party. This is a special group."

Hors d'oeuvres, anyone?


message 10: by Laura (new)

Laura | 258 comments I started to read the novel but put it down. I wasn't ready for the darkness.


message 11: by Tara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tara | 118 comments @Laura, yes, I can understand that, sometimes you are in the right frame of mind and sometimes not.

I find the only way I can read books like this is if I maintain a certain amount of detachment from what's going on. However, there were many scenes in this book when this wasn't possible eg a story, with the baby water buffalo which I found very disturbing.


message 12: by Serf (new) - rated it 5 stars

Serf Ya I had to follow this with something light because it is quite heavy and upsetting at times but I think that's a sign of a good storyteller


message 13: by Tara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tara | 118 comments Agree Seraphina, you really felt those stories.

I do that too, a challenging/great read and then a light read. Also, some books leave such an impression that I want to mull them over and not "spoil" them by moving on too quickly to another great book.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

In the lead-up to that scene he said that real war story is believed with your stomach. Then he promised one and gave us that. As gruesome as it was, I think he delivered.


message 15: by Tara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tara | 118 comments Yes, that's true.


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