The believable narrator
His emotion and dramatic reading was spot on and insightful.
The Rainy River is captivating, best writing and reading I have come across in a long time. Cranston not only lends a face to the story, but a compassionate vulnerability that oozes the feelings of this young man who is faced with a life changing dilemma, no matter what choice he makes.
I would rewind and listen to specific parts again and again. The words, narration, point of view, mood, tone, all spot on. Beautifully painful book, thank you Tim O'Brein for allowing me the priveledge of hearing your story.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
Vietnam described in ways you never expect . . . my husband (a retired SGM) and I listened to this on a road trip recently . . . at times we laughed, totally familiar with the military terms, at other times we were totally silent . . . no words . . . absolutely NO words to describe what we were feeling . . . this is not the patriotic, hero stories of comrades at war . . . it's the down in the crap (literally), sinking into despair, wondering what the hell you are there for, tale of soldiers trying to make it one day at a time in a war that nobody wanted to fight . . . it's truthful and hard to swallow . . . it's honest beyond anything I've ever heard on Vietnam . . . no matter what your politics, you need to hear it . . .
We tend to glorify war. Tim O'Brien tells us how it really is. A must-hear account of a man's time in the hell of the Vietnam War. Bryan Cranston does an excellent job of narration, though I wonder how Tim O'Brien might have done as the narrator as he does provide a personal reading at the end of the book. This book kept me in rapt attention!
I really enjoyed it, but the part that annoyed me was that it jumped between the "real" story and the "fantasy" story. I get that it was the author's intentional ploy, but it was a bit distracting.
I did enjoy it, and it was a great look into the psyche of a combat soldier.
Simply one of the most powerful books I have ever read. So heart-wrenching, so true, it is difficult to find my own true words to describe the experience that is this author’s journey into himself, and into every soldier, and into all of us. By allowing the reader into his memories, Tim O’Brien uses story to save himself now, to save himself in Vietnam, to save himself as a young boy. So this book is not only about a specific war, not only about war in general, but it is about life and the power of words.
I must add that I listened to this as an audio book read by Bryan Cranston, who was devastatingly perfect. Also, the audio book has a bonus track that is well worth listening to, featuring Tim O’Brien reading his essay “The Vietnam in Me.”
I must end this review with transcripts of some of my favorite passages from the book, because I never want to forget them.
All of us, I suppose, like to believe that in a moral emergency we will behave like the heroes of our youth, bravely and forthrightly, without thought of personal loss or discredit. Certainly that was my conviction back in the summer of 1968. Tim O'Brien: a secret hero. The Lone Ranger. If the stakes ever became high enough—if the evil were evil enough, if the good were good enough—I would simply tap a secret reservoir of courage that had been accumulating inside me over the years. Courage, I seemed to think, comes to us in finite quantities, like an inheritance, and by being frugal and stashing it away and letting it earn interest, we steadily increase our moral capital in preparation for that day when the account must be drawn down. It was a comforting theory. It dispensed with all those bothersome little acts of daily courage; it offered hope and grace to the repetitive coward; it justified the past while amortizing the future.
A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.
I'm skimming across the surface of my own history, moving fast, riding the melt beneath the blades, doing loops and spins, and when I take a high leap into the dark and come down thirty years later, I realize it is as Tim trying to save Timmy's life with a story.
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 can't 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.
[from “The Vietnam in Me”] … Vietnam was more than terror. For me at least, Vietnam was partly love. With each step, each light year of a second, a foot soldier is always almost dead, or so it feels, In such circumstances, you can’t help but love. You love your mom and dad, the Vikings, hamburgers on the grill, your pulse, your future, everything that might be lost, or never come to be. Intimacy with death carries with it a corresponding new intimacy with life. Jokes are funnier, green is greener, you love the musky morning air. You love the miracle of your own enduring capacity for love.
Tim's writing style reminds me of Cormac McCarthy, one of my favorite authors. For me, Tom Stechschulte is the voice of Cormac McCarthy, and now, for me, Bryan Cranston is the voice of Tim O'Brien. The narration is perfect. I both want to listen to other books by Tim O'Brien, and I don't because Bryan is so good here. I may have to read Tim's other books instead.
Bryan Cranston is brilliant as the narrator of this book. It certainly seems to be a very detailed account of the daily life of infantrymen in Vietnam, however, I was greatly disturbed by portions of the book which seemed unnecessarily violent. In particular, there is a scene describing the horrendous torturing of a juvenile water buffalo at the hands of a frustrated American soldier. I was sickened by this part of the narrative and question why the author thought that such a passage was appropriate. It may be that events like this did occur; however, I hardly see the need to include endless details about such repugnant behavior when it adds nothing to the story.
I would not. I think that there are many well-written novels, plays, etc. about the horrors of the Vietnam War which have considerably more literary value.
A film based upon this book would not add anything to the existing body of fictional work about the Vietnam War. The films "Platoon" and "Apocalypse Now" have more than adequately depicted the horrors of the Vietnam War.
I did not finish this book.
I felt an overall dishonesty throughout the book, which the author himself points out. It reminded me of a comedian who laughs at his own jokes in an effort to get the audience to laugh with him. The difference is that Tim O'Brien wants you to cry with him.
It simply did not work for me.
I listen while driving. When I review, I'm much more apt to discuss the performance than the content. Sometimes, a bit of both.
Tough subject matter. What I would call an "important read". You can get tons of better critiques online elsewhere. Mr. Cranston's performance was spot on. A grave voice for grave material!
Possibly, although with explanation that my political leanings don't necessarily align with the author's.
I would love to learn more about this era and the things we put our boys through. I would have bought this book for at least three people I know had it not been for some of the political interjections that I know they may take offense to on some levels. I powered through those sections and found the overall book highly fascinating and engaging.
Yes, the vignette's were dreamlike and nightmarish. I enjoyed meeting the different characters and understanding their motivations behind their actions, even the most grotesque of their actions.
Sometimes it was a little too Bryan Cranston... I enjoyed hearing the author's own voice at the end and then thinking back on some of the stories with the author's voice in mind. Hearing the author's voice gave the stories more credibility and emotional fragility than Cranston applied at times.