The Things They Carried

This evening I heard Tim O'Brien read an excerpt from The Things They Carried.  It's been around for twenty years, and to celebrate the anniversary he did a reading at Barnes and Noble in Union Square.  He wore a baseball cap and read a chapter from the book slowly for about eight minutes, then he read a letter from a 26 year old woman.  It recounted, simply and elegantly, how his book had brought her and her father together. Time O'Brien started to cry as he finished reading.

I encountered a story from this book in a college English class.  The book is a series of connected short stories about a platoon in the Vietnam War.  It's been awhile since I read it, but I remember that it's a harrowing and brutal and eloquent book.  Reading the title story may have been when I really fell in love not just with books, but with writing.

I brought my copy thinking I could get Tim O'Brien to sign it, but had to leave early to so I could go to class.  At home I opened the book and found that it was already signed.  I had forgotten that my friend, Chase, had given me a signed copy as a gift one year.  One of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever been given.  I need to read this book again.


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