The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Because of the stories: Each chapter a stand-alone, yet strung together to form a longer story.
Because of the storytelling, the way the story snippets are laid out: Mentioned in passing at first, then padded a bit more, and finally the full-blown start-to-finish of them.
Because it’s a true story of Vietnam.
Because it might not have actually happened the way it’s written, because some of it might not have happened at all, but some of it’s definitely true, and even if none of it’s true, it’s still a true war story.
Here’s an excerpt:
Often in a true war story there is not even a point, or else the point doesn’t hit you until twenty years later, in your sleep, and you wake up and shake your wife and start telling the story to her, except when you get to the end you’ve forgotten the point again. And then for a long time you lie there watching the story happen in your head. You listen to your wife’s breathing. The war’s over. You close your eyes. You smile and think, Christ, what’s the point?
I started writing when I was six years old.
Since then I’ve kept journals and diaries, written short stories and attempted longer ones, and I’ve created poems and scenes and characters.
But when my latest attempt at a novel-length story floundered miserably, I seriously questioned (not for the first time!) the status of “writer” that I’d slapped on myself at some point in my teenage years. Writer’s block plagued me for months, as I thought: Am I a writer if I don’t write?
For most of my internet life, I’ve been a lurker. That makes me sound like some forty year old deadbeat perv.
Which I’m not.
I just rarely contributed anything to cyberspace.
I found answers I needed on relevant forums, browsed people’s blogs that I liked, and just plain surfed the web.
I didn’t leave comments (surely, someone else would have the same thought as me and leave a comment), didn’t have twitter (seriously, who needs to know that I just missed my bus?), and didn’t even think of starting a blog (completely unique, like every other kitschy blog out there).
But then I realized that I don’t care if my blog joins the million (or is it billion?) other blogs floating in cyberspace.