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"Things, like a walk in the park." Song lyrics

  • Sep 25, 2010
This story brought to mind Truman Capote's nonfiction novel, "In Cold Blood," due to the mixture of fiction and realism.

"The Things They Carried," tells of a platoon of soldiers and their experiences in Vietnam. It gives an interesting insight into the make-up of soldiers on active duty and serves as a comparison to today's army fighting in Afghanistan.

In the story, we learn what various soldiers carry in the field.  We learn of the special military equipment such as hand grenades and weapons but also the nonmilitary equipment such as one man carrying a sewing kit, another had a New Testament, still another carried Dr. Scholl's foot powder. The center of the story is Lieutenant Jimmy Cross who carried letters from his love, Martha, a college student at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey. Sadly, we also discover that wile Jimmy was madly in love with Martha, she didn't share his compassion and was writing more as a concerned friend.

The author also gives the reader a view of the activities the soldiers took part in when not on the field, such as Kiowa, who was teaching a rain dance to Rat Kelly or another soldier who adopted a puppy. This made the soldiers seem more real.

The book is made up of linked stories and is more like a journal of Tim O'Brien's war experience. To me, it felt more like a lesson in history than a novel and what appealed to me was the uniqueness and descriptions of men who are my age, and what they went through in the war.

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review by . October 10, 2004
Read this one years ago and reread it again recently. Very good story telling here. This is a collection of stories, probably more about human emotions, than about war, although there is plenty of that too. Mr. O'Brien is a skilled writer whose prose is quite pleasing to the eye and ear. His insight to human emotion, particuarly emotions brought out by stress, is wonderful. This is an easy read and the book should be added to your shelf. Highly recommend.
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Mike Draper ()
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Michael A.Draper is a financial planner with Mass Mutual in North Haven, CT.   Married to Diana for 47 years, one son and daughter-in-law and two lovely granddaughters.      … more
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About this book


"They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing--these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice.... Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to."

A finalist for both the 1990 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Things They Carried marks a subtle but definitive line of demarcation between Tim O'Brien's earlier works about Vietnam, the memoir If I Die in a Combat Zone and the fictional Going After Cacciato, and this sly, almost hallucinatory book that is neither memoir nor novel nor collection of short stories but rather an artful combination of all three. Vietnam is still O'Brien's theme, but in this book he seems less interested in the war itself than in the myriad different perspectives from which he depicts it. Whereas Going After Cacciato played with reality, The Things They Carried plays with truth. The narrator of most of these stories is "Tim"; yet O'Brien freely admits that many of the events he chronicles in this collection never really happened. He never killed a man as "Tim" does in "The Man I Killed," and unlike Tim in "Ambush," he has no daughter named Kathleen. But just because a thing never happened doesn't make it any less true. In "On the Rainy River," the character Tim O'Brien responds to his draft notice by driving north, to the Canadian...

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ISBN-10: 0767902890
ISBN-13: 978-0767902892
Author: Tim O'Brien
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Broadway
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