Friday, January 23, 2009

The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien

Last book of the 2008 year, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien was a finalist for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize. The author tells of his experience in Vietnam from multiple perspectives. He tells a similar story a number of times and each time it becomes more truthful.

The story isn't linear in the way that most tales are told. We are introduced to a platoon of men and then their shared experience is drawn out for us. O'Brien manages to explore the grusome details of war and the shocking immersion back to "real life" in a calm and almost poetic way.

The book is fiction, but the narrator is named "Tim O'Brien" which caused a little bit of wondering about the truthfulness of the stories. The author in an interview states that one of the chapters about "Tim" where he attempts to avoid the war that he doesn't agree with by going to Canada did not happen to him in real life. Instead, he boarded the bus and was sworn in - but felt like a coward for not being able to flee.

Even though the subject matter was difficult, and centered around the Vietnam conflict - it felt topical and relevant in today's world.

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