The Bookshelf: Going After Cacciato

8 05 2008

Finally read Going after Cacciato. Initially I had some problems with the surreal style of the book and stopped after few chapters, but now I actually liked it.

Reading reviews of the book online, I also found some analysis of the way O’Brien had converted his memories into books. It might also apply to Stone.

http://www.stfrancis.edu/en/student/O’Brien/essay4.htm

QUOTE: I will consider how O’Brien manipulates the reader’s customary’suspension of disbelief’ by giving the narrator of The Things They Carried his own name and many of his own biographical details (date of birth, military record, and so on), while simultaneously stressing, throughout the narrative, that all the characters (including the narrator) are fictional and all the stories (including those in which the narrator takes part) are invented. It could be said that, in The Things They Carried, everything is true but nothing is authentic.

This dichotomy is not merely an academic conceit. O’Brien himself has repeatedly made two statements, throughout the text of The Things They Carried and in interview since the book’s publication: ‘This is a true story’ and ‘Everything is made up.’ In writing specifically about war, O’Brien says,’To generalize about war is like generalizing about peace. Almost everything is true. Almost nothing is true’.

O’Brien thus effectively hampers any significant effort on the part of the reader to distinguish between fact and fiction, reality and imagination in this book. Most apposite to this paper, he hampers any attempts to distinguish between his ‘real’ self (the author Tim O’Brien) and his fictitious self (the narrator Tim O’Brien – the book’s’I’ character). The two personae often give the appearance of becoming intertwined and almost indistinguishable, even in the author’s mind. O’Brien’s narrator says in The Things They Carried, ‘It’s not the surface that matters, it’s the identity that lives inside‘ and this does seem to indicate that the’real’ identity of the narrator may not always be as clear-cut as it seems.








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