The Things They Carried

The second book I read this year was the book for our first book club meeting. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is a collection of stories about the Vietnam war, and coming home from the Vietnam war. (And trying to avoid going to the Vietnam war.) It's also about storytelling, cameraderie, belonging, and the slippery morality of war.

The book club had an interesting variety of reactions to this book. One of us said she couldn't relate to any of the characters in the book on account of them being men, but that she really enjoyed the writing. I thought the writing was compelling but I didn't really notice it. Which would normally be a good thing, but I feel like I should notice writing, pay attention to it, so I can improve my own writing. I guess that's what the second reading is for, but I'm too impatient to read anything twice. Something to work on.

Another book club member thought she didn't like it, but in retrospect realized that she liked that one part... and the other chapter... and that bit about... actually it was really sticking with her and that must be good. It's that kind of book — you may not enjoy reading it but it gives you lots of things to think about. I liked it — the characters were compelling, and I liked the ideas and questions it raised, especially the question of the difference between a true story, and something that really happened.


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