In this interview O’Brien discusses the unsummarizable nature of his novel The Things They Carried. The book eludes categorization as a memoir or a work of fiction, as it uses fictitious events to describe real sentiments and thoughts in the author’s life. I found particularly interesting how O’Brien carefully weaves a character bearing his name and many of his traits and experiences as a means of divulging his own opinions without writing an autobiography. This technique creates a powerful trust between the reader and writer, as the memoir-esque nature establishes authenticity.
Looking back, I feel that the novel should be classified as fiction. Though O’Brien recounts experiences that parallel his own, it would be unfair to allow his made-up events pass as reality, regardless of the moral or informative “truth” they bear. Despite this, O’Brien’s writing technique establishes a bond with the reader that mirrors the role of a storyteller. As a lesson to future generations about war, The Things They Carried would not be nearly as powerful were it not for this connection between author and audience.