I've just spent the most delicious, rich16 hours with this audiobook course. This course is organized around the central theme of American individualism - its presence and absence in the texts, the making and breaking of persona, the way it plays into society and the way society affects it. It's a nuanced, deep dissection of how that has played out in the American novel and other ancillary writings.
Prof. Weinstein offers some vibrant new ways into reading some familiar, and some not so well-known pieces of American literature. I'd buy any course he taught.
I first read this book long ago. When the audio version was released, I decided to revisit it. My initial reading made me feel this was an extraordinary collection of stories written with a kind of driven brilliance, an awful, playful bitter precision. Tim O'Brien is a master of descriptive writing. A reader would have to have serious cognitive deficits not to get pulled in and inundated in the stories. It wasn't until I listened to the audio version, narrated flawlessly by Bryan Cranston, that I noticed the voluptuous poetry of his language.
The book is an anthology of stories about the Vietnam War. Bound together by the theme of what is carried, it opens with the very literal list of what the men in his platoon carried and broadens out into the emotional scars, the guilt, the sense of loss, fear, unrequited love, of brotherhood and of the deadly numbness that is carried on the soul.
I was immensely grateful to encounter this book again.