Selected Shorts: The Things They Carried

This week Selected Shorts features one story: “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, read by film and TV actor Dylan Baker. Chosen as one of the Best American Short Stories of the Century,  “The Things They Carried” begins with a list of physical objects carried by different members of a platoon in Vietnam, and eventually moves on to spiritual burdens of an even heavier weight:  

“They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing–these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture. They carried their reputations. They carried the soldier’s greatest fear, which was the fear of blushing. Men killed, and died because they were embarrassed not to.”

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