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Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Things They Carried (1990) by Tim O'Brien


Book Review
The Things They Carried (1990)
 by Tim O'Brien

  The Things They Carried is like the real-life version of the fictional Vietname memoir/work of fiction that forms the basis of the film Tropic Thunder.  That fictional book was also called Tropic Thunder.  The Things They Carried is named after one of the interlinked short stroies about the author's experience fighting in Vietnam- the story describes the items carried by the soldiers during the tour of duty in Vietnam.  Poetic, it is not.  Lyrical, perhaps- but not poetic. Readers looking for cutting edge prose technique are likely to be disappointed. Instead, you get literal stories about phrases non-combatants may have thought to be metaphorical.

  One story concerns the platoon taking mortar fire in a literal shit field- so called because local villagers used it for the deposit of their feces over a lengthy period of time.   I would say that much of The Things They Carried is cliche, but of course, that is only because lesser lights have so often covered the same ground, particularly Hollywood, which had codified the Vietnam experience with it's code of mud, blood and incomprehensible combat objective.  All that is here in purest form, making it a must for Vietnam war buffs and fans of combat literature.

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