The Things They Carried

Very random thoughts and links   The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, Mariner Books • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2009 (orig 1990), 233 pages

One of three books for my Personal • Deliberate Challenge 2011   √

At first, I wanted to present only a one word review:  “awesome”.   But then I decided to look up some synonyms to see if I could find a more perfect word.   INCREDIBLE vied for my attention, as did WONDROUS.  But I’m choosing

FORMIDABLE – inspiring respect through being impressively powerful, intense, or capable.

On many levels, I am surprised and delighted and haunted and moved and struck dumb by the words written by TO’B.

I am intrigued by the blurred lines between fiction and truth.   Tim O’Brien himself narrates this work of fiction and yet it is not a memoir.    I really liked how the Literary Feline explains in her Sunday Salon of August 15, 2010:

Tim O’Brien’s accounts of the Vietnam War in The Things They Carried are fiction, based in fact. It’s hard not to think of the book as completely nonfiction when reading it, especially since the author writes in the first person and the narrator shares the author’s name.

In fiction, there is truth. Sometimes it is easier to get to the truth through fiction than through nonfiction. We can see into the heart of it much more clearly.   …The Things They Carried are good examples of portraying the truth in fiction at its finest.

I wonder about how the mind processes a tragic event;  how memories distort or not over time.

I am impressed by the brilliance in the writing.

This is a MUST READ.      Five slices of pie.


Fyrefly’s Blog Search Results, Sophisticated Dorkiness BOOK CHAT <— Kim has asks excellent thought-provoking questions, Trish’s Reading Nook, She of A Book Blog.PeriodLu’s at Regular Rumination (“At times, O’Brien is graphic and crude. But it never feels out of place or unnecessary…”), Sandy read/reviewed the Kindle version at YOU GOTTA READ THIS!, Nancy the Bookfool (“…quite simply, one of the most moving, beautifully written books I’ve ever read.”), Lisa’s Lit and Life, the Book Lady’s Blog explains that this is often a challenged and/or banned book, Heather J at Age 30+…A Lifetime of Books listened to the audio version.   Feel free to add your review link to the comments are let me know and I’ll link it here.


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29 thoughts on “The Things They Carried

  1. We read a Tim O Brian book for my book club a few years ago and it was great…I can’t think of the title right now but it was a great one for discussion. This one sounds fabulous as well.

    Also, I would absolutley love to be your blogging buddy 🙂 I am flattered to be asked!

    1. Thanks for including me. I didn’t even set out to write anything like a ‘review’ and intended only to link to others’. This seems to be one everyone has read and wants to and I applaud that.

  2. May I recomend a much more honest book about what it was really like in Vietnam, also told in the narative form. ( VIETNAM:NO REGRETS)This one you will not you will not want to put down, but will read over and over again.


    1. Thank you Mr. Watkins, I will make note of this title. I would also recommend The Father of All Things for an interesting look at then and now in Vietnam and the relationship of a son to his father who served in that war. By Tom Bissell.

  3. Maybe I read this book too early in life. We had to read it my junior year of high school, for a big project we were doing on Vietnam, and I found it really upsetting.

    1. There is a lot of stuff that is upsetting! Though I wonder if I saw too many Vietnam movies and so was able to distance myself from some of the gory stuff.

  4. I can’t get over how you each and everyone of you are so easerly fooled into thinking THE THINGS THEY CARRIED paints a true picture of what Vietnam was really like, I mean what part of FICTION don’t you understand. I suggest you read VIETNAM: NO REGRETS if you have an interest in what we had to deal with, day in and day out.

  5. Were those strawberries there when I was here last? I swear they weren’t–but maybe I’m just hungry. 😉

    Formidable is a great way to describe this book. I read it a few years ago and remember yearning to know which parts were based on O’Brien’s life and which were more fictionalized. I decided in the end, it didn’t matter–the book was just too poignant to care.

    1. Trish, I had the same reaction! What’s “true”?! oh well – doesn’t matter.

      I switch up my header a lot. I think I did that after National Pie Day last Sunday.


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