Love and Spin (The Things They Carried)

And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever.  That’s what stories are for.  Stories are for joining the past to the future.  Stories are for those late hours in the night when you cant remember how you got from where you were to where you are.  Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story. (36)

This is a really interesting passage from the end of “Spin.”  The rest of the short story gives little snippets of moments in the war, but here we see an almost direct narration.  This seems to be a really close version of something the actual Tim O’Brian would actually say, especially considering he is accomplishing just this.  He wrote a book loosely based on his experiences in war so that it will not be forgotten and will last “forever.”  The book’s epigraph seems to go along with this:

This book is essentially different from any other that has been published concerning the “late war” or any of its incidents.  Those who have had any such experience as the author will see its truthfulness at once, and to all other readers it is commended as a statement of actual things by one who experienced them to the fullest. –John Ransom’s Andersonville Diary

Keeping in mind rule number 1 –Form equals function– O’Brian’s choice of telling his tale with interlinked short stories instead of a traditional novel makes complete sense.  O’Brian was not concerned with telling the story of a hero overcoming some hardship, and did not write to simple entertain his readers.  He wrote to give little snapshots of what it was actually like to serve in the war according to his memory.  Also, because he wrote it later, it gives us an indirect glimpse at how the experience affected him.



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