Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Stories They Told

I finished Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried last night (or was that the night before? this round-the-clock CoAdvil regimen is beginning to affect my thought processes) and was happy to discover the book was as much about storytelling as it was about the war. I avoided this one for a while because, between movies, television and novels, I felt I'd had a lifetime's fill of Vietnam stories. 

O'Brien, however, uses his own career as a writer (fueled by his experience in Vietnam) to blur the lines between fact and fiction in this novel. In the second half of the book, he'll return to stories from the first half and admit that, well, it didn't really happen like that or that kind of happened but it didn't happen to that character, it happened to me. And throughout the novel, stories are being told by characters and their technique is critiqued by other characters. O'Brien's point seems to be that the "truth" of fact doesn't matter; it's the emotional "truth," the larger "truth," that captures our experiences.

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