Tag Archives: Short Stories

Review: The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried
By Tim O’Brien
Houghton Mifflin, Hardcover, 9780547391175, March 2010, 233pp.

The Short of It:

When it comes to storytelling, memory alone can be unreliable.

The Rest of It:

From Indiebound:

Depicting the men of Alpha Company Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O Brien, who survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three the stories in The Things They Carried opened our eyes to the nature of war in a way we will never forget.

At times, this collection felt very real to me. O’Brien served in Vietnam so the level of detail included in each story really gives you a sense of what it was like there, but there are also some implausible things that take place that remind you that it is indeed a work of fiction. Nevertheless, as a book club read it was an interesting book to discuss.

Memory. How important it is in telling stories like these? Does it really matter if the stories were based on actual events? In this case, no. If O’Brien’s purpose was to give us an idea of what it was like to be on the lines, then I’d say that the author succeeded. The details are grisly and O’Brien doesn’t hold back when sharing the cruel side of human nature. A couple of the stories feature animal cruelty that nearly all of us had a tough time getting through. Overall, the horrors of war were made very clear.

I do not enjoy war stories (at all) but I did find this book to be very readable and it was an excellent book to discuss with a group.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Among Animals – The Lives of Animals and Humans in Contemporary Short Fiction

Among Animals

Among Animals – The Lives of Animals and Humans in Contemporary Short Fiction
By John Yunker (Editor)
(Ashland Creek Press, Paperback, 9781618220257, 232pp.)

The Short of It:

A deeply introspective look at the role of animals in society.

The Rest of It:

This is a powerful, and I’ll admit, at times, unsettling collection of short stories that center around animals and their place in society. I expected most of the stories to center around “man’s best friend” but the collection goes much deeper than that.

These stories include a man’s infatuation with a bird, a story told from a stray dog’s point of view, a woman impregnated (magically speaking) by a dolphin, a pregnant woman slowly becoming goat-like, and probably what was the most powerful story for me, one about an animal taken in as “meat” that suddenly becomes quite a bit more than that.

What I briefly mentioned above doesn’t even cover the half of it. My main reason for accepting this book for review, is that it also includes two favorites stories of mine, written by Midge Raymond (The Ecstatic Cry) and Jean Ryan (Greyhound). I was introduced to their writing through their story collections (Forgetting English and Survival Skills) some time ago and ever since, I’ve looked at short fiction in an entirely new light.

Short. Fiction. Can. Pull. You. In.

Yes. Yes, it can.

I know lots and lots of readers that shy away from short fiction. Trust me, I am a novel gal. I love to lose myself in a long novel but if you haven’t given short fiction a chance lately, you really should. Among Animals, in particular, really shook me up. I was all torn up over this one. It’s not a sad collection, but at the same time, it’s not a happy collection either. Each story seems to call the reader out, and then take you down a peg. It’s a little unnerving but at the same time, comforting. That’s a strange word to use for some of these stories but there was a solemnity to it all that made me revere the collection all the more.

As you can see below, the Otter Pup approved of it and how ironic that she’d find kinship with a book about animals.

Among Animals and Otter Pup

If you are looking to stretch yourself a little as a reader and have been trying to work some short fiction into your reading schedule, I cannot recommend this collection highly enough. It’s thought-provoking, somber but also totally in your face. I loved it.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.