This week I read The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. This is a profound and poignant book. O'Brien writes about being a soldier in Viet Nam in the 1970s. The things they carried were not just the ammunition, canteens, guns, etc etc. They mostly carried their fears, hopes, strategies to survive a cruel situation, memories, and imagination.
It's fictionalized truth. He tells stories, which is his way of dealing with his memories and sorting out the truth and the humanity of himself and of everyone else involved in the war. He'll tell a story, then will talk about how much of it is true and how much is fiction, then will tell more about the same story. The reader never knows exactly how much is actual fact. It doesn't matter.. in the act of story telling, the war becomes manageable and real for O'Brien, and certainly for the reader.
It is a war story; however, even the gory parts are so well crafted that I didn't feel turned off; it's very touching and well-told.