The Things They Carried is a novel by Tim O’Brien recalling his time in Vietnam. It is so in-depth and moving in it’s simplicity. What a masterpiece! O’Brien balanced the sadness and small beauties of war and the individual soldiers in his platoon.
These are true stories from O’Brien’s life as a soldier during Vietnam. The heart-rendering losses he encountered were rendered into poignant short stories in this collection. It starts off with a comprehensive list of tangible and intangible items the soldiers in his platoon were carrying with them throughout the war.
I was introduced to a few of these stories in college, but I am so glad I decided to go back and read the entire book. There’s is something inquisitive and yet calm about his way of writing. The reader feels the terrible weight of each death encountered, but also a somewhat zen take on it all. I felt myself less worrisome and more serene whilst reading the gruesome battle tales.
Definitely made me appreciate my father and everything he’s been through as a soldier. Tim O’Brien explained the need to hold back on sharing every detail with your family and I found myself understanding my father’s PTSD and nightmares a bit more astutely. I would suggest this book to those who enjoy historical or war nonfiction. This novel is an experience in, and of, itself.