The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

I read this in high school and it floored me. I always teach the first chapter in my Comp II classes.

the quiet voice

Rating: 5/5 stars.

As a pacifist, I did not expect to love The Things They Carried – a book comprised of short stories centered on the Vietnam War. However, Tim O’Brien’s magnificent writing won me over quicker than I could say “callipygous.” This book isn’t just about the brutality of war, it’s about the human condition, the emotions that entrench us in times of desperation and loss. There isn’t much more I can contribute concerning the book that hasn’t been said so here are a few of my favorite passages from it.

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  1. We did the whole thing in my 1102s this spring. I love it, of course, but I’m not sure I want to read two classes’ worth of essays on it again. Some of them profited from it; discussions were generally good; one student was vocally distraught over its structure and lack of plot. What their experiences were, I can’t say, but the last chapter of the book, “The Lives of the Dead,” makes me want to cry every time. I’m smiling at the comment above that the book is centered on Vietnam. I say only marginally.

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