The Things They Carried by Tim OBrien

Book Report/Review
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Introduction: Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried has been generally regarded as a collection of interrelated stories, though the title page of the piece just names it 'a work of fiction'. However, O'Brien was trying to depict something utterly convincing, though he lacked clarity regarding what is real and what is made up.


Background and Research Issues: The Things They Carried has been praised for the writer's ambition in attempting to convey the horror of war and the power of storytelling. According to Kakutani, The Things They Carried is a vital and significant book which "matters not only to the reader interested in Vietnam, but to anyone interested in the craft of writing as well." (Kakutani, C21) Therefore, the work can most significantly be comprehended as an innovation in narrative form by the writer. It may be related here that the reviewers had great complexity in accounting for the genre of the short story cycle. Whereas the publisher calls it 'a work of fiction,' O'Brien regarded it "as 'sort of half novel, half group of stories,' suggesting that he was unaware of the tradition of the genre." (Nagel, 129) One of the binding questions that come up in an analysis of the work is related with the genre to which the work may be categorized. Therefore, the most effective realization of the work may be that it is a collection of individual stories with a beginning, middle, and end, distributed in different chapters which can be successfully organized under the label of a novel, as the individual chapters form a united whole in the overall effect. ...
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