The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien

This book is the only exposure to the Vietnam War that my high school gave me, and I read it in my English class when I was 15 or 16. It did a good job illustrating the misery of fighting and the things that cling to a young soldier's memory without being too graphic for a teenager. This is not a book about the heroism of the armed forces, which seems to be the norm in movies now. Rather, you find yourself thinking about the utter waste of lives.

The line between fiction and non-fiction is intentionally blurred. While some don't care for it, O'Brian did succeed in his attempt to create a story that is sometimes factually false but always emotionally true. It was an interesting choice, and made the novel something that really sticks with a reader. I may not remember all of the book as I haven't read it in ten years or so, but I'll never forget

Kiowa dying in a "shitfield"

(show spoiler)

and the way it affected the characters. While I would have preferred the narrative structure to be continuous, its format as a collection of connected short stories worked well.