by Tim O'Brien
"Even the refugee must do more than flee. He must arrive. He must return at last to a world as it is, however much in conflict with his hopes, and he must then do what he can to edge reality toward what he has dreamed, to change what he can change, to go beyond the wish or the fantasy." (Sarkin Aung Wan in Going After Cacciato, pg. 318)
I read The Things They Carried a couple of summers ago, and I've never forgotten it. I've been meaning to read anther Tim O'Brien book ever since. If you've never read O'Brien, I don't think Going After Cacciato is where I would recommend starting, but it's a beautifully disturbing book that showcases his stunning writing.
I still don't know for certain what happened in this story. When Cacciato deserts during the Vietnam War and heads for Paris, Paul Berlin and others in his squad follow to bring him back. Somewhere along the way, the search for Cacciato becomes just an excuse to get away for themselves. But I was never really positive what was actually occurring and what was a fantasy in Paul Berlin's head. Which I'm pretty sure was the point. Berlin was never a brave man and under the extreme stresses of war he developed a coping mechanism to which I think a lot of us can relate. However, we eventually must face the reality of our situation no matter how terrible or lose ourselves in a delusion that we cannot maintain.
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!