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The Things They Carried (1990)

by Tim O'Brien

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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13,991382394 (4.18)693
Fiction. Literature. Short Stories. Historical Fiction. HTML:

A classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, The Things They Carried is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O'Brien, who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three.

Taught everywhere‚??from high school classrooms to graduate seminars in creative writing‚??it has become required reading for any American and continues to challenge readers in their perceptions of fact and fiction, war and peace, courage and fear and longing.

The Things They Carried won France's prestigious Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize; it was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award… (more)

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    jrgoetziii: Because The Iliad is a classic war story and The Things They Carried is not, but took a number of passages almost directly from The Iliad (one of these is the catalog in the first book, but there are many others, too). The Iliad covers significantly more range and depth, and its themes are timeless.… (more)
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» See also 693 mentions

English (379)  Spanish (3)  All languages (382)
Showing 1-5 of 379 (next | show all)
The first chapter of Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" is riveting - putting some hard perspective on the front-end of a very personal set of short stories that are otherwise difficult to explain using hard facts. The novel isn't autobiographical but it is written as though it were non-fiction, drawing inspiration from the authors personal experiences in Vietnam. These are deep and metaphysical journeys into the souls of the soldiers involved. This isn't a novel about the war, but more about what war does to human beings. One of my favourite chapters takes place well before the war, as draft dodger struggles with his decision to skip the border to Canada. Not every chapter is quite this engaging, but overall there's a wonderful arc to this book, and O'Brien has a wonderful way of talking about the violence of war without descending into cliche or melodrama. ( )
  nakedspine | Nov 16, 2023 |
Read for ... well, I don't even remember how many times I've read this book. But this WAS the first time I've read it since I got back from war myself. And shockingly, it isn't the war parts that got me - it's the truth parts; it's the parts that suggest a story can save a life and be more true even when it is made-up. It's telling a deeper story and letting the details be imagined from that pure spot of memory and emotion. This is now, as it has always been - beautiful. But more than that, now. Now, it's personal.

Read it. ( )
  BreePye | Oct 6, 2023 |
Oh. ( )
  Kim.Sasso | Aug 27, 2023 |
the things they carried is a book that is equally discomforting and easy to read. it goes into the mind of each character a bit and it doesn't only talk about the physical things they carried. you can read this and 5 days or so and think about it for a few weeks. the only thing i didn't really like was that there aren't quotation marks when the conversations start and it doesn't really tell you who is talking which just means you just have to pay attention to the characters. i recommend as an easy read! ( )
  hisdaughtermelanie | Aug 16, 2023 |
The Things They Carried deliberately blurs the line between fact and fiction - O'Brien served in Vietnam and writes in first person, but admits that many of the stories here are untrue. This narrative strategy captures the surreal nature of a war in which groups of men spent long periods humping their possessions through the jungle. The experience was both harrowing and dream-like, with grotesquely horrible mixing with macabre hilarity. Some of the stories here are too fantastic to be true - a soldier's high school sweetheart going native, donning a necklace of tongues and going on night excursions with Green Berets. Another soldier drowning in a shit field. The constant presence of death. O'Brien captures these images and sensations, but also puts them in context of life in middle -class America. ( )
  jonbrammer | Jul 1, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 379 (next | show all)
"As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on, O’Brien’s powerful depictions are as real today as ever."
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tim O'Brienprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cranston, BryanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prate, Jean-YvesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
This book is essentially different from any other that has been published concerning the 'late war' or any of its incidents. Those who have had any such experience as the author will see its truthfulness at once, and to all other readers it is commended as a statement of actual things by one who experienced them to the fullest.
-- John Ransom's Andersonville Diary
Dedication
This book is lovingly dedicated to the men of Alpha Company, and in particular to Jimmy Cross, Norman Bowker, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Henry Dobbins, and Kiowa.
First words
First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey. They werre not love letters, but Lieutenant Cross was hoping, so he kept them folded in plastic at the bottom of his rucksack.
Quotations
It was my view then, and still is, that you don't make war without knowing why.

I was a coward. I went to the war.
Garden of Evil. Over here, man, every sin's real fresh and original.
"Well, right now," she said, "I'm not dead. But when I am, it's like . . . I don't know, I guess it's like being inside a book that nobody's reading."
I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth. Here is the happening-truth. I was once a soldier. There were many bodies, real bodies with real faces, but I was young then and I was afraid to look. And now, twenty years later, I'm left with faceless responsibility and faceless grief.

Here is the story-truth. He was a slim, dead, almost dainty young man of about twenty. He lay in the center of a red clay trail near the village of My Khe. His jaw was in his throat. His one eye was shut, the other eye was a star-shaped hole. I killed him.

What stories can do, I guess, is make things present.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is a collection of short stories, one of which is titled The Things They Carried. Do not combine this collection with that individual story.
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Fiction. Literature. Short Stories. Historical Fiction. HTML:

A classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, The Things They Carried is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O'Brien, who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three.

Taught everywhere‚??from high school classrooms to graduate seminars in creative writing‚??it has become required reading for any American and continues to challenge readers in their perceptions of fact and fiction, war and peace, courage and fear and longing.

The Things They Carried won France's prestigious Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize; it was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award

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