My review of The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is the seventh book in my “26 in 52 Challenge” which means I’m falling a little behind and need to pick up my reading game from here on out (should be reading book 10 right about now).

While shopping for books recently, a friend of mine recommended this one, and as I was cashing out, the cashier also gave it a good endorsement; I figured I couldn’t lose. This is a story about story telling, with the backdrop of the Viet Nam war. The beginning starts off with the first chapter listing many of the physical things these soldiers carried, setting up for the emotional baggage that stuck with them for the war and beyond. I got the point that what these soldiers were carrying was emotional before I started reading, so the start was a little slow for me and could probably have been cut back quite a bit. After that, the book picked up as it went along, with Tim O’Brien making the reader feel as if they’re in the Viet Nam jungle. Each story from horrific deaths to the mundane were told with great description and imagery.

It was blurry if it was fact or fiction for me, which is a testament to the great writing of O’Brien. He mentions many times, mostly at the beginning, that each story told isn’t necessarily the truth, but the emotions and other descriptions added and changed over time doesn’t make them less true, because that’s how the person reacted to it emotionally, so it was true to them.

It took me a while to get into the book, and while the writing was great, it felt like a collection of smaller stories, which wasn’t what I was expecting. I recommend this one, but don’t go into it thinking it’s your typical fiction novel. 3.5/5

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