Thursday, December 30, 2010
The Things They Carried: A Book Review...
Much like my recent review of The Ouroboros Wave, The Things They Carried, is more a collection of short stories and remembrances than it is a single work. Some of these short stories had been published elsewhere before being collected here and some are new. All blur the line between fiction and reality with the author coming out and telling the reader that he is doing so in order to impress upon his audience more emotional weight than would be generated by a mere regurgitation of the facts.
Mr. O'Brien is a gifted writer. The stories here, all told from the perspective of one "Tim O'Brien" are well crafted and the language clean and simple. The action is brutal but not over the top--there seems to be a dark humor in even the most grotesque of circumstances. Some of these stories stirred genuine emotions of sadness and grief within me which is not something that happens very often from the written word.
I neither served in, nor grew up around the Vietnam conflict and so I have little point of reference as to Mr. O'Brien's guilt as to having served there and will make no statement of opinion as to his feelings surrounding his participation in and/or righteousness (or lack thereof) of the Vietnam war. As a work of fiction this collection is as solid as any around.