Five words from the blurb: Vietnam, war, healing, masterpiece, devastating
The Things They Carried is a modern classic. It has been described as “one of the war books of this century” and “essential fiction about Vietnam”. Before starting the book I knew little more than that, but on finishing it I can only agree. This is a very important book and I’m sure it will be read for generations to come.
The Things They Carried is a series of short stories about the Vietnam War. If I’d known that I wouldn’t have read it – I tend to get frustrated by short stories, longing for more character development and the complex plot of a longer novel. I experienced these problems with this book and that is why I haven’t rated it as highly as others, but I’m pleased I read it and if you enjoy short stories then you will really appreciate it.
The writing in this book is stunning. I especially loved the repetitive writing style of the first chapter:
The rest of the book highlighted individual events from the war, portraying shocking scenes with sensitivity and emotional power. Each situation was vividly described, but I longed for the events to be connected by a compelling narrative. Yes, some of the characters reappeared in subsequent chapters, but the narrative jumped forwards and backwards in time, giving it a disjointed feel that distanced me from the horrors. I wanted an emotional connection to the characters and to see their personalty change and develop with the increasing hardship of war.
The book provides a lot of thought provoking passages about the mental burden or war – how it really feels to kill someone and how it is possible (or not) for a soldier to return to their previous life after experiencing these horrors. There is also an impressive piece of writing about being conscripted for war.
There is a lot to admire in this book and I do think it is an extremely important piece of literature. I wish I could love it as much as I feel I should do.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
One of the most moving, beautifully written books I’ve ever read. Bookfoolery and Babble
Tim O’Brien’s writing in this is absolutely breathtaking. He has the ability to put you right there in the middle of Vietnam with all the characters. The Betty and Boo Chronicles
It is beautifully written and eloquent in a way that few books about war are. Lit and Life