A great article about The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.
In lieu of an abstract, here’s the first paragraph:
When Tim O’Brien’s If I Die in a Combat Zone appeared in 1973, critics lauded the memoir and promptly prepared a place for the new author – three years out of Vietnam – in the ranks of the contemporary war writers who were trying to record what was happening in the bloody quagmire in which America, uncharacteristically, found itself mired. Such a characterization seemed borne out in his next two novels; both Northern Lights and Going After Cacciato were clearly representative of a new literature of the Vietnam experience. But in each of these works there is also ample evidence of his concern with issues broader than a specific war in Southeast Asia: indeed, even early readers recognized that If I Die in a Combat Zone was no mere raw emotional record of war experiences but rather “a spare, poetically allusive, and classically toned personal memoir” …
– from O’Gorman, Farrell. “The Things They Carried as Composite Novel.” WAR LITERATURE AND THE ARTS 10 (1998): 289-309.