Friday, April 11, 2008

Review of The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

The Things They CarriedThis is a really good book, but for reasons I didn't expect. I found his war stories, harrowing as they were, taking a back seat to his open struggle to tell the truth out of these stories, comparing story-truth to fact. These are things that occupy my mind a lot when I'm writing, how much do you strip away, how much do you obscure, how much do you out-and-out lie just to get the greater point across, and in these deceits and omissions, does the truth elude you or the reader?

While it was far from being the most lurid, the most haunting story in the book for me was the one about the guy circling the lake in his father's car after coming home from the war, just circling and watching the day roll out like a film hand-cranked by his rotations. O'Brien paints himself as that guy, re-telling these stories, reliving the war until they get lived out, asking himself directly and though others why he keeps doing what he does, answering with little more elaboration than it being what he has to do.


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