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The Things They Carried

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message 1: by Rujuta (new)

Rujuta I've seen this book around my house for quite a while but never got to doing so, can't wait!

message 2: by Rujuta (new)

Rujuta I started the book and was surprised to see that it was organized into vignettes -- I always enjoy reading books that are structured this way so here's hoping this one's no different.

message 3: by Carrie (last edited Nov 09, 2014 03:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Carrie I really like this book. Tim O'Brien's writing style and story telling are suburb. Even though he writes about war, his stories aren't like other "war stories", ya know? I hope you enjoy the book!

*i just noticed that auto correct corrected superb to suburb,lol.*

message 4: by Rujuta (new)

Rujuta I just finished the second vignette and it's interesting to see this play out like a love story. The other men carry necessities (water, pocketknives, etc.) but Jim Cross carries love letters...because what he needs to survive is love. Even after Lavender's death, Jim still loves Martha.

Carrie I'm sure you know this, but OBrien is a veteran and this book has a semi autobiographical feel to it based on his experiences in Vietnam.

message 7: by Rujuta (new)

Rujuta Actually, Carrie, I didn't know! Thanks for telling me. That definitely adds a lot more depth to this novel. I just finished "The Dentist" and it's really interesting to see Curt Lemon's superiority complex take a toll and how he proves his masculinity in the strangest, and in my opinion, stupidest way. Who gets a tooth pulled for no reason?

message 8: by Rujuta (new)

Rujuta Just finished "Stockings". Superstitions have always baffled me...why do people believe in completely irrelevant ideas?

message 9: by M (new) - rated it 3 stars

M Military superstitions have been explained to me thus: You inherit pre-existing superstitions that have likely been around decades. Everyone around you has inherited them. Nobody knows if they work, and nobody's willing to die for the sake of experimentation.

It could be why more desperate and impoverished people tend to be more religious. Growing up, there was a similar thing with my mother's cooking - we stuck to a handful of recipes that never changed because we couldn't afford to ruin it.

Might have made a mess of that but otherwise I hope it sheds some light.


Bibliophile-tori Rujuta wrote: "Just finished "Stockings". Superstitions have always baffled me...why do people believe in completely irrelevant ideas?" I believe people have superstitions because they need hope, in that chapter specifically you can tell that the stocking are more than superstition they are hope. Hope of a better life outside of war, even if war is all they know. Personally that is how I interpreted superstition in this novel. You can see that in all the characters, what they carry may be required but many of the things they carry that may be irrelevant to war are a "personal wants" that helps them reach a false sense of stability that they need, its their way of coping with what is happening all around them. In our world superstitions can be interpreted many ways. It can be interpreted as hope, or as denial meaning we cannot face confrontation and need to lie to ourselves, we need to soften the wound or soften the bad news that is coming.

message 11: by M (new) - rated it 3 stars

M Denying superstitions in a combat environment is a way to make everyone else dislike you. Bad idea.

Phyllis Our Book Club (which includes a 'Nam vet) just finished this book and the discussion tonight was enlightening. This is a book that works on many levels, and uses symbols and 'war stories' to keep the reality of 'Nam alive. Well written, excellently structured, and factually based (is it fact or fiction?), this is a very, very good book.

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

Kit Is it fact or fiction--that is the question. Or maybe not. Many people say that fiction gets to the truth better than most nonfiction. If you're interested in conveying the truth about war (which The Things They Carried does magnificently well; it's a great example of metafiction) here's three recommendations--all fiction--that I think also do it incredibly well: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain and The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. Then of course there is Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five.

Lucia Alfaro The stories he tells are the emotional truth not the actual one. This is the message O'Brien is attempting to expose. He also exposes the art of storytelling which is triggering sharp emotion. This book leads you to question ourselves: why are we so obsessed with wanting to know what is true and what is not? Why do we really want this book to be true. His writing tends to have that effect on people...

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

Kit Yes, Lucia I think you are right, although I think there's a lot of actual truth in OBrien's book as well as emotional truth. Which gets right to the point we're both making about why it is or is not important to label all books as either fiction or nonfiction...

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