Book review? Really, this isn’t the place.

Yes, it is the place. Cause I said so. A review of a great book:

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a war story. Classified as postmodern fiction, O’Brien recounts the experiences his fictional character Tim O’Brien has during the Vietnam war. As the story begins, O’Brien lists the things that the soldiers in Vietnam carried. While the lists included guns, rations, letters, and other mementos, the heaviest artifacts these soldiers carried were memories, fear, and responsibility. The intangible burdens had a tangible weight. Each experience these soldiers had added to their loads and as they went through the battles, the emotional loads were the heaviest. Dropping a backpack would not relieve them of the burden of death, pain, and suffering. Throughout the novel, O’Brien tells stories to relieve himself of the emotional burdens. He compares dropping a backpack to storytelling. The important part, though, is that the message is properly portrayed. The facts of the story may be more or less true, but the feelings involved need to be properly represented.

Tim O’Brien based his stories on the experiences he had while serving in the Vietnam war. The way he relates the stories may differ from the way he experienced them, but the feeling is the same. He differentiates between these two recollections by calling them “story-truth” and “happening-truth.” The fictional version of himself relates, “Right here, now, as I invent myself…I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth” (O’Brien 179-180). Distinguishing between these two types of truth and, therefore, telling his version of the truth, allows O’Brien to release the emotional burden he has carried for nearly twenty years. The general idea is that truth is subjective. There is not one perfect way to recount an experience. So whether or not O’Brien tells us exactly what happened to him, he does tell us exactly how he felt and that alone is the purpose of storytelling.

Read it.


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