The Things They Carried

By Tim O'Brien
(Broadway, Paperback, 9780767902892, 272pp.)

Publication Date: December 29, 1998

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover, Paperback, Prebound, Compact Disc, Compact Disc, Compact Disc, MP3 CD, MP3 CD, MP3 CD

Shop Local
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.

Go


Description

One of the first questions people ask about The Things They Carried is this: Is it a novel, or a collection of short stories? The title page refers to the book simply as "a work of fiction," defying the conscientious reader's need to categorize this masterpiece. It is both: a collection of interrelated short pieces which ultimately reads with the dramatic force and tension of a novel. Yet each one of the twenty-two short pieces is written with such care, emotional content, and prosaic precision that it could stand on its own.

The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and of course, the character Tim O'Brien who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three. They battle the enemy (or maybe more the idea of the enemy), and occasionally each other. In their relationships we see their isolation and loneliness, their rage and fear. They miss their families, their girlfriends and buddies; they miss the lives they left back home. Yet they find sympathy and kindness for strangers (the old man who leads them unscathed through the mine field, the girl who grieves while she dances), and love for each other, because in Vietnam they are the only family they have. We hear the voices of the men and build images upon their dialogue. The way they tell stories about others, we hear them telling stories about themselves.

With the creative verve of the greatest fiction and the intimacy of a searing autobiography, The Things They Carried  is a testament to the men who risked their lives in America's most controversial war. It is also a mirror held up to the frailty of humanity. Ultimately The Things They Carried and its myriad protagonists call to order the courage, determination, and luck we all need to survive.




About the Author

A native of Worthington, Minnesota, Tim O'Brien graduated in 1968 from Macalester College in St. Paul. He served as a foot soldier in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970, after which he pursued graduate studies in Government at Harvard University, then later worked as a national affairs reporter for the Washington Post. He now lives in Massachusetts.

Other books by Tim O'Brien include If I Die in a Combat Zone Box Me Up and Ship Me Home, Going After Cacciato, Northern Lights, The Nuclear Age, and In the Lake of the Woods. Going After Cacciato won the National Book Award in 1979. In the Lake of the Woods won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the society of American Historians and was selected as the best novel of 1994 by Time magazine. His latest novel, Tomcat in Love (1998), is published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House.




NPR
Monday, May 31, 2010

Novelist Tim O'Brien served in Vietnam as an infantryman in 1968. He wrote about the war in several novels, including Going After Cacciato and If I Die in a Combat Zone. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1990 about his classic book of short war stories, The Things They Carried. More at NPR.org

NPR Audio Player Requires Flash Upgrade: Please upgrade your plug-in to view this content.

NPR
Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010

In war, there are no winners. That's what readers take away from Tim O'Brien's book about the Vietnam War, The Things They Carried, in the 20 years since its publication. O'Brien shares what he carries from his time in Vietnam. More at NPR.org

NPR Audio Player Requires Flash Upgrade: Please upgrade your plug-in to view this content.




Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. The narrator of The Things They Carried goes by the same name as the author, but the title page notes that this is a “work of fiction.” How did this launch your reading of the book?




Praise For The Things They Carried

"I've got to make you read this book.... In a world filled too often with numbness, or shifting values, these stories shine in a strange and opposite direction, moving against the flow, illuminating life's wonder."
--Rick Bass, The Dallas Morning News

"The Things They Carried is more than 'another' book about Vietnam.... It is a master stroke of form and imagery.... The Things They Carried is about life, about men who [fight] and die, about buddies, and about a lost innocence that might be recaptured through the memory of stories. O'Brien tells us these stories because he must. He tells them as they have never been told before."
--Richmond Times-Dispatch

Indie Bookstore Finder

Indie Bestsellers

Landline
Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin's Press
Daily Love
Mastin Kipp
Hay House
The Magician's Land
Lev Grossman
Viking Adult
10% Happier
Dan Harris
It Books

Make Your Own Wishlist

FIND US ON:
IndieBound on Twitter IndieBound on Facebook







Update Profile