Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried

by Jess

I’m (finally!) reading The Things They Carried.  I don’t know if I’ll do a full review because I’m pretty sure everyone knows how awesome this book is already.  If you don’t know, it’s awesome.

The Things They Carried was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and won the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger.  It just so happens that 2010 is the twentieth anniversary of its publication, so Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has reissued the hardcover and the paperback with new jackets.  I know, I know, it’s a really big deal or something.

The title story is so fantastic.  I love the endless lists of what the soldiers were carrying (how did they carry it all?) and the poesy of O’Brien’s language.

Every third or fourth man carried a claymore antipersonnel mine, 3.5 pounds with its firing device. They all carried fragmentation grenades, 14 ounces each. They all carried at least one M-18 colored smoke grenade, 24 ounces. Some carried CS or tear gas grenades. Some carried white phosphorous grenades. They carried all they could bear and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.

Here’s the transcript from a fabulous interview with O’Brien from NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

Seems like everyone’s carrying something.