The Things They Carried

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Hello, fans, listeners, and non-listening readers of this post. This episode of Novel Ideas is about Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a sort-of-memoir/sort-of-fictional anthology set in and around the Vietnam War. In this episode we discuss classroom books, ambiguity, character archetypes, and unreliable narrators. We also talk about what we carry, lengthy gaps between recording (though maybe not posting? Okay, okay, not ONLY posting) podcasts, all-American girl/sweetheart assassins, and the purpose of second grade girlfriends in a war story.

The music bump is “Memory” by Yoko Kanno because maybe it was like, all dream, MAN.

114 – The Things They Carried – Ambiguous Reality

Our recommendation:

Not a straightforward war story, so you don’t have to like those to read this book. Another one of those obvious in hindsight why it is studied in school books.

Ben: 7/10. It feels like an example of a certain flavor of war story, usually involving Vietnam, that was probably more original/unique once upon a time. That being said, something about this book affected me a bit, something about the idea of being a young person and having to go to war when you have no interest in doing so.

Gabs: First half 5/10, second half 7/10. Why was there a little girl with cancer in this book?

2 thoughts on “The Things They Carried

    JJ said:
    October 20, 2017 at 10:05 am

    I think you might have missed a lot of the things this book was saying. I’m not trying to be an internet offended guy or anything. This book is my favorite book on war and does an amazing job of showing what it was like. I disagree that it was a collection of short stories, the chapter on a true war story kinda explains how it never follows a linear path and is impossible to really explain. The title was about how they carried all the weight of the war on their shoulders. The girl that came to Vietnam and the girlfriend back home was about how you can’t mix the two worlds of home and war. Anyways, just my 2 cents.

      Ben and Gabs Roman responded:
      October 23, 2017 at 8:54 pm

      Internet Offended Guy is way less polite than you! Thanks for the thoughts and thanks for listening. I’ll give some thought to the second grade girlfriend in the context of the whole book instead of as an isolated story and see if it makes more sense to me. -Ben

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