Friday, March 9, 2012

Book Review: The Things They Carried


When I first encountered “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, it was 2003 and the book had just been announced as the “One Book, One Chicago” selection at a press conference.  A friend had given me a copy and even though it was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and five inside pages were dedicated to glowing reviews, it sat on my bookshelf unread, collecting dust for six years until rather unexpectedly, I met and fell in love with a wounded OIF soldier and my search to understand him began.    

Tim O’Brien is not only an award winning, critically acclaimed, great American writer, he is also a Vietnam Vet whose bold and vivid storytelling creates an experience the reader won’t soon forget.  “The Things They Carried” is a war story, a collection of short stories of the men of Alpha Company fighting the Vietnam War, it is also a story of the fragile yet ever-enduring human spirit as it struggles with both the horrific reality of combat and the foggy, shape-shifting memory of it.

“The Things They Carried” is a masterly crafted book, deeply insightful, shockingly brutal and for families of a combat vet, may even feel strangely familiar.  Once left on a shelf to collect dust, my copy now contains scribbles in the margin, earmarked corners and highlighted passages far too many to quote, this book has become an essential part of my journey to understand my vet and all the things he still carries. 

The Things They Carried
Written By: Tim O'Brien
Published: 1990
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Submitted by: Amber

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