The Things They Carried
28 journalers for this copy...
They carried malaria tablets, love letters, 28 pound mine detectors, dope, illustrated Bibles, each other. And, if they made it home alive, they carried unrelenting images of a nightmarish war that history is only beginning to absorb. Since its first publication, The Things They Carried has become an unparalleled Vietnam testament, a classic work of American literature, and a profound study of men at war that illuminates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul.
Bookring shipping order:
Telerandil, Arizona, USA
icekween01, Missouri, USA (int'l)
goatgrrl, BC, Canada (int'l)
WhitePine, Connecticut, USA (int'l)
blaisezabini12, Romania (Europe only)
BookHaven01, Portugal (int'l)
lisabb2, Iowa, USA (USA pref.)
AngelfireStar , Nebraska, USA
geniedances, Texas, USA
buffra, Virginia, USA (int'l)
tbeckross, Washington DC, USA (int'l)
Hellie, UK (int'l)
esq228, New Jersey, USA (US pref.)
wyldewomin, Massachusetts, USA (int'l)
firrantello, North Carolina, USA (US/Can. prefered)
You already know what this book's about. My initial impressions, having finished it, is that I read something very, very important, but I can't for the life of me pick out the details of it. It's as if there's an adaptation of it knocking around in my head, and that's all I remember.
The striking feature of this work is the interplay between its chapters. Between the covers is a series of personal recollections, tall tales, and editorial notes, each of which would stand on its own (and, as most of these are reprints, they originally did stand on their own). Yet these chapters combine to form something more coherent than a collection of short stories, but less cohesive than a single novel. Midwinter suggested that it sounds a lot like Vonnegut's war work, and it really does work that way.
There are a lot of rough edges to this book--both in terms of content and narrative structure. Expect blood and gore and people being less than polite. Expect jarring transitions between successive chapters and sudden bouts of bathos. Yet like the overall structure, the rough edges work together to tell a story. You'll end up filling in some of the transitions yourself, but that's part of the fun.
The story? You'll have to make it up as you go along, like I did. Yet, if you read between the lines a bit--and the narrator gladly shows you the way--you just might find glimpses of a war someone carried all the way home.
Read this one in small doses, on the edge of sleep or in between waypoints.
On its way to icekween01.
The Anorexia Diaries by Linda and Tara Rio
and then I will start on this one.
Thanks for sharing your book!
Thanks for sharing your book. I will be passing it along shortly.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
I felt confused and unsettled by O'Brien's characterization of this book as "a work of fiction", when so much of it is clearly rooted in fact. The book is dedicated to the men of Alpha Company, many of whom -- O'Brien tells us in the book -- are named in its pages. But O'Brien seems to have augmented the facts with some confusing, self-aggrandizing details (I killed someone ... I didn't kill someone ... we all killed ... but I didn't kill anyone ... but of course I did ...), and he's clearly chosen not to include some others (like what really happened to the "cute Mama-san" at p. 240 between the time Curt Lemon stripped her at gun point and when he "tuck[ed] her into bed"). Any accountability to the truth gets wiped out in the designation of this book as "fiction". This seems somehow wrong to me. (And disappointing, considering what a talented fiction writer O'Brien really is - I'd heartily recommend his In the Lake of the Woods.)
The piece I did like a lot was "On the Rainy River" (p. 39). O'Brien's rant at p. 45 ("I'd be screaming at them, telling them how much I detested their blind, thoughtless, automatic acquiescence to it all, their simpleminded patriotism, their prideful ignorance, their love-it-or-leave-it platitudes, how they were sending me off to fight a war they didn't understand and didn't want to understand ...") certainly resonates today. And the character of Elroy Berdahl, whether real or imaginary, was wonderful.
But back to the baby buffalo. I guess you'd have to be an edgy, battle-hardened war veteran to get that that was a "love story", all right. To a stupid co*ze like me, it just seemed like unspeakable cruelty.
(Top left: Bong Son, Vietnam, 1966, a Vietnamese mother and her children are framed by the legs of a soldier from the U.S. First Cavalry Division. By photographer Henri Huet (1927-1971). From Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina.)
28 August 05: I am sorry it took me so much time to read this book. The truth is I wasn't in the right mood and I prefered to wait some time before trying to start reading it again - and I must say this: it was worth it!
The stories were SO REAL and page by page I got to know all the characters better and better. My favorite story was by far "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" because it was so impredictible and it left an open ending.
I already have the address of the next reader and I'll mail the book at the beginning of next week. Sorry again for delaying the ring and thank you midwinter for giving me the opportunity to read this book.
30 August 05: mailed today
i am finishingone ring,have another tiny one, and expect to start this one this sunday.
thanks a lot for sharing midwinter.
it really is cruel and lovely, from the passion and sorrow o'brien puts in it.
as midwinter said, i really feel i've read something important and that will stay with me for long...
thank you for sharing, i think maybe i'll come back later, as the dust settles down and post some more comments.
i'll be sending this ring to lisabb2 tomorrow.
Anyway, I'll be sending this one to AngelfireStar shortly.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
sent to geniedances
I'm so sorry -- this book arrived, it's been read and when I went to PM the next person on the list, I realized it had snuck in without being journalled! I'm so sorry about that.
I have read it and will right up my thoughts after a bit. I just wanted to let it be known that it was safe and about to undergo the next bit of its journey (on Tuesday, I guess, due to the holiday weekend).
Never received a response from Hellie, so I sent this off to esq228 on 7/8/06.
I've already PM'd wyldewomin, but have yet to get a response. I'll try once more, but will move on to the next person if there still isn't a repsonse.
I'll try to find somone to RABCK this to.
EDIT: Going to KarenZero, who is toward the end of a ray for this herself. I'm just hurrying up the process :)
hopesdreams (CAN, prefers US/CAN)
booklover (US, can ship intl)
tqd (Australia, can ship intl)
Jubby (Australia, can ship intl)
kizmiaz (Portugal, prefers to ship EU)
biffin44 (England, can ship intl)
Haugtussa (Norway, can ship intl)
Thanks for sharing it!
I have hopesdreams' address and will get the book off asap. Thanks KarenZero for sharing!
Thanks for sharing.
I've read very few war novels, and I think this is the first book I've read set in Vietnam.
I liked the whole concept of "truth" in a war story. Or the lack of truth:
In war you lose your sense of the definite, hence your sense of truth itself, and therefore it's safe to say that in a true war story nothing is ever absolutely true.
I found that this whole (often repeated) concept was again repeated by the blurring of the lines between fact and fiction: obviously the author had served in Vietnam, and was affected by what happened there, and has used it as a source of his stories. But at the same time, he often repeats that he's making up stories. And, then again, you get the same story (in particular, Kiowa's death) from different viewpoints and storylines.
The most powerful bit of the book for me, and the phrase that I may never lose:
"Garden of Evil. Over here, man, every sin's real fresh and original."
I notice on the spine of the book that it was shelved under teenage fiction at the library (it being an ex-library book, and it's good to see it have another lease of life as a bookcrossing book!). At first I wondered at that (it's about war, and it's not a particularly easy read, although it's wonderfully written), but then I realised that if you can go to war at 18, you can read about it at 18 (or earlier) too.
I'll be seeing Jubby at meetup (bookdrinks!) on Tuesday night, so shall pass this along then. Thanks everyone for getting the book to me, I am very glad I got the chance to read it!
I received this book at our local bookcrossing bookdrinks this evening.
Now, I've got three other bookrings ahead of this one, I am also on holidays, and hope to get to this one soon.
Thank you for sharing your book with me.
An exploration between fact and fiction; an explanation as to why we tell the stories that we do; and examination of the style and techniques that we use for stories.
It was not so much the topic, but the style of this book that I enjoyed the most. And pages 179-180 were just brilliant, with their explanation of why a writer changes and bends facts, and enhances stories.
I think I enjoyed that passage so much, because I recently read 'A million little pieces' by James Frey, and could see why one would deviate from the truth. I am sure the $$$ are also alluring (would Oprah have picked his book to flog is it had been published as fiction?).
Thank you for sharing this book with me Karenzero.
And I can see why TQD made mention of this book being in the Young Adults section of a library.
Not a choice I would agree with...
But a great book for adults, and especially those who like autobiographies and memoirs.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Posted to Kizmiaz in Portugal.
I still have one book to finish before I get to this but it shouldn't take long.
An amazing fictional (barely) account of the experiences of an U.S. infantry soldier in Vietnam. The blood, the guts, the tears, the naïveté, the fear and the bravery, it’s all here and told in such a vivid way that you can’t help but feel for what these guys were put through.
Even though the Vietnam war is a little alien to Portugal we did have a couple of wars going at the same time Vietnam was going and went through the same stuff: drafts, young guys running from the country so they wouldn’t be enlisted, guys sent to fight an unknown enemy, guys dying without a clue of what they were doing there, and especially guys returning to country that felt uncomfortable by their return. All this helped to “get” what the author was relating.
A book that I can’t really find the words to define, except to say that it’s a must read, whether you’re an American or not and whether you stand for war or against it. This book is for written fiction about Vietnam what Platoon is for movie fiction about that same war, both a ten star fictional (barely) account of a screwed up war and the guys that got screwed fighting it. The things they carried going in there weren’t half as heavy as the things they carried coming out of that place.
I’ll be sending it along today (14.11.2007).
SO SO sorry it has taken me this - but I'm happy to say that the book is now on it's way to Norway.
I thought it wouldnt take me long to read this because it's a small book, large text and not technically challenging. I didnt consider the fact that i just wouldnt like it. I'm afraid the narrative did not hold my attention and so i generally was inspired to pick it up and read it...
Sorry again but thanks for the opportunity!
I'm looking forward to read it.
I liked parts of the book, but as previous readers have pointed out I found it strange that the author stated it as 'a work of fiction'.
I'd like to add a quote from the book p.230
"The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make the spirits in the head."
Well, unfortunally O'Brien didn't make me dream along with him.
As I am last in the ray - I'll try to continue it.
Ths list of participants & shipping order
Tuttasb - Norway (Europe)
Vamperstein8782 - UK (Eurpoe)
RDWirral - UK (Europe)
Marsala - The Netherlands (Europe)
iliotropio - Belgium (international)
perryfran - USA (international)
ExemplDucemus - USA (Within the US)
SeamonkeyofTVCH - USA (international)
cat207 - Australia (prefers Aus)
juli2007 - Australia (international)
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
I didn't feel anything for any of the characters (with the exception of the baby buffalo) and wasn't moved by any of the events that happened (again, with the exception of the baby buffalo incident). And, if I'm honest I only actually read the whole thing because I don't like giving up on books.
Will mail this on to RDWirral tomorrow.
All around there are books sipping cool drinks under shady palms while other books participate in a wide variety of beach sports. There is plenty of sand, surf and sun here for all of the lost and wayward books to enjoy.
It is hoped that very soon a new journal entry will come to rescue this book from the island and send it back out into the BookCrossing world so that it may continue on its journey. It is hoped that the new journal entry will tell all the interested parties where this book has been this long time and where it will be traveling to next.