Thursday, October 12, 2006

Book Club of One: The Things They Carried

I know, it's fast. But I told you I was well into it.

This book is amazing (the link takes you to a great article on Wikipedia about the book). I'm not sure exactly how to put it into words. It's one of those few books in which every word, every sentence is completely and utterly true (hence the 'faction') I mentioned in the earlier post. The book is a series of vignettes about and hovering around Tim O'Brien's experience in the Vietnam War. The details of his conflicting ideas and emotions, the people around him, the insanity, the environment, the desperation are delivered in such a way as to make you rub your face, thinking there's a foreign Vietnamese insect on your face. This book is passionate, honest, revealing, and naked. It's beautiful, horrifying, and crazy. It's all the other adjectives you can think of. It's a true work of art.

Here are some quotes derived from the many dog-eared pages:

They used a hard vocabulary to contain the terrible softness...It wasn't cruelty, just stage presence. When someone died, it wasn't quite dying, because in a curious way it seemed scripted, and because they had their lines mostly memorized, irony mixed with tragedy, and because they called it by other names, as if to encyst and destroy the reality of death itself.

They were too frig
htened to be cowards.

It was my view then, and still is, that you don't make war without knowing why.

You can tell a true war story if it embarrasses you. If you don't care for obscenity, you don't care for the truth; if you don't care for the truth, watch how you vote. Send guys to war, they come home talking dirty.

And on returning after the war:The town seemed remote somehow. Sally was married and Max was drowned and his father was at home watching baseball on national TV....Norman Bowker shrugged. "No problem," he murmured.

One last quote:

I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.

I know, I went a little overboard with the quotes. But I adored this book and I hope I'll get at least one person excited about reading it.

1 comment:

jmixont said...

So, "encyst" is a new word to me - it's wonderfully descriptive. Thanks.