Adam C. Zern offers his thoughts on The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien:
"I had a very unique reaction to The Things They Carried. It's certainly one of the better written contemporary books I have read in some time. However, my feelings toward it are somewhat ambivalent. It almost feels like the book was written in such a way to make you feel that way. There are moments in the book that the prose borders on the edge of poetry - simple and extremely effective.
At one point Tim O'Brien puts his characters in a flooded Vietnamese rice paddy that has essentially become a giant latrine. Mortars pound the earth around the soldiers as they try to bury themselves in filth so as to not be buried by death. Flares paint the Vietnamese sky as mortars fall from it. All of this is juxtaposed with a character, chronologically later on, wading in a lake back home watching fourth of July fireworks. It was one of those rare moments that reminded you how powerful and affecting stories can be.
On the other hand, the reader is reminded of the chaos of war and the tragedy that can be human nature. The book moves from poetry and profound meaning to the mindless work of death that is war with little or no moral to be found. It is, in a word, ambiguous."