My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was an enthralling read, despite the contents. I'm not much for novels of war, but O'Brian is able to write a beautiful, lyrical tale that I wanted to read. I listened to this on audio read by the author and then reread stories in print that I particularly enjoyed. For me this was the best way to consume this story, I could immerse myself in it. Listening to it was like having O'Brien and his characters over for a Sunday afternoon session, talking crap and lamenting the bad old days.
This managed to grab me from the start and while these are essentially short stories, they come together to paint a picture of Alpha Company and their time in Vietnam. The opening story 'The Things They Carried', just, I still can't, it was beautiful.
"They shared the weight of memory. They took up what others could no longer bear...They carried the land itself - Vietnam, the place, the soil - a powdery orange-red dust that covered their boots and fatigues and faces."
That's not to say I loved all of this, I was frustrated by the senseless violence, the apathy towards other people, animals, the war. And I don't necessarily think this answered my questions about why the war happened, maybe I need a straight non-fiction book to tell me that. Then again, I'm not sure it's something I can truly understand - there are some things that you have to experience first hand to fully understand. It's given me a lot to think about and I know on a reread I'll discover more.
It is books like this that make me thankful that I'm slogging my way through the 1001 list. Well worth the read, so much so that I would like to add it to my collection.
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Until next time, happy Reading.