The Things They Carried

This is a book that I heard of through a podcast that I listen to fairly often.  For once, it’s not the Writing Excuses podcast, although one of the members of the Writing Excuses cast is part of it.  This time I’m referring to the podcast Do I Dare To Eat A Peach? which is hosted by Dan Wells and Rob Wells, two authors (and brothers) whose work I enjoy.  I’ve reviewed works by both authors on this blog and I have a good time listening to their ramblings about various topics.

This is one of the books that they talked about in their best books you read in high school podcast.  After finding the book a while ago, I’m really glad that I read it.  Tim O’Brien is a wonderful writer and I’ll probably check out more of his stuff in the future.

Book StatsThe Things They Carried

233 pages



Like a few of the other books that I’ve reviewed on this blog, this is a collection of short stories.  The difference between this and some other short story collections is that the works in this book loosely form a larger story.  Easily the best thing about this book is the writer’s voice as he talks about the events in the book.  One of the last books that I read was by Dean Koontz, and in that book I hated the flowery language that he used to try and make it sound fancy.  Take that in comparison to this book, O’Brien never seems to try and force the prose to sound flowery, but the writing ends up being absolutely gorgeous in it’s simplicity.  There are times when the best way to say something is as simply as you possibly can, and this book does it better than any other book that I’ve read in quite some time.

The book is also written as though it was a sort of memoir recalling parts of O’Brien’s life.  I have no idea whether or not the author actually went to Vietnam as he described in the book, but the way it’s written he makes it sound like he was there.  And while I enjoyed all of the book, I especially loved the chapter titled On The Rainy River, where the narrator talks about his reaction when he was drafted.  It’s amazingly well written, and it’s a perfect example of everything that I think would be going through my mind if I was in the same situation.

If you’re a fan of military history, I think you’d love this book.  If you’re a fan of fantastic writing, I know you’ll love this book.

Overall Grade

A very interesting set of stories with some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read.


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1 Comment

  1. Hannah Bassett

     /  February 23, 2014

    I actually read the first chapter of this for a Reading in Common program at my first college. It was interesting, but I didn’t feel a drive to finish the book. I’m not really a military writing fan, but maybe I’ll give it another shot someday. Glad to hear you enjoyed it, though.


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