The Things They Carried
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The Things They Carried

By (author) Tim O'Brien

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The million-copy bestseller, which is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling. 'The Things They Carried' is, on its surface, a sequence of award-winning stories about the madness of the Vietnam War; at the same time it has the cumulative power and unity of a novel, with recurring characters and interwoven strands of plot and theme. But while Vietnam is central to 'The Things They Carried', it is not simply a book about war. It is also a book about the human heart - about the terrible weight of those things we carry through our lives.

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  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 128 x 194 x 20mm | 181.44g
  • 25 Jul 1991
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • FOURTH ESTATE LTD
  • London
  • English
  • 0006543944
  • 9780006543947
  • 10,144

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Author Information

Tim O'Brien was born in Minnesota and served as a foot soldier in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970, and after graduate studies at Harvard worked as a reporter for the Washington Post. When 'If I Die in a Combat Zone' was published in 1973, it established him as one of the leading American writers of his generation, a status that was confirmed when 'Going After Cacciato' won the National Book Award for fiction.

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Review quote

'One of the best war books of this century, an unflinching attempt to illuminate both its obscene physical brutality and the terrible mental overload' Guardian 'A thrilling and beautiful distillation of everything that has been thought, felt, or said about the Vietnam War and its long afterburn. A heartbreaking and healing masterpiece; time will make it a classic' Michael Herr, author of Dispatches 'Essential...O'Brien captures the war's pulsating rhythms and nerve-racking dangers...a stunning performance. The overall effect of these original tales is devastating' New York Times

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Review text

It's being called a novel, but it is more a hybrid: short-stories/essays/confessions about the Vietnam War - the subject that O'Brien reasonably comes back to with every book. Some of these stories/memoirs are very good in their starkness and factualness: the title piece, about what a foot soldier actually has on him (weights included) at any given time, lends a palpability that makes the emotional freight (fear, horror, guilt) correspond superbly. Maybe the most moving piece here is "On The Rainy River," about a draftee's ambivalence about going, and how he decided to go: "I would go to war - I would kill and maybe die - because I was embarrassed not to." But so much else is so structurally coy that real effects are muted and disadvantaged: O'Brien is writing a book more about earnestness than about war, and the peekaboos of this isn't really me but of course it truly is serve no true purpose. They make this an annoyingly arty book, hiding more than not behind Hemingwayesque time-signatures and puerile repetitions about war (and memory and everything else, for that matter) being hell and heaven both. A disappointment. (Kirkus Reviews)

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