Results of the Pulitzer Prize in the year 1991.
In John Updike’s fourth and final novel about ex-basketball player Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, the hero has acquired heart trouble, a Florida condo, and a second grandchild. His son, Nelson, is behaving erratically; his daughter-in-law, Pru, is sending out mixed signals; and his wife, Janice, decides in mid-life to become a working girl. As, though the winter, spring, and summer of 1989, Reagan’s debt-ridden, AIDS-plagued America yields to that of George Bush, Rabbit explores the bleak terrain of late middle age, looking for reasons to live.
Early in this century, rivers of oil were found beneath Oklahoma land belonging to Indian people, and beautiful Grace Banket became the richest person in the Territory. But she was murdered by the greed of white men, and the Graycloud family, who cared for her daughter, began dying mysteriously. Letters sent to Washington, D.C. begging for help went unanswered, until at last a Native American government official, Stace Red Hawk, traveled west to investigate. What he found has been documented by history: rampant fraud, intimidation, and murder. But he also found something truly extraordinary—his deepest self and abiding love for his people, and their brave past.
One of the first questions people ask about The Things They Carried is this: Is it a novel, or a collection of short stories? The title page refers to the book simply as “a work of fiction,” defying the conscientious reader’s need to categorize this masterpiece. It is both: a collection of interrelated short pieces which ultimately reads with the dramatic force and tension of a novel. Yet each one of the twenty-two short pieces is written with such care, emotional content, and prosaic precision that it could stand on its own.
The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and of course, the character Tim O’Brien who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three. They battle the enemy (or maybe more the idea of the enemy), and occasionally each other. In their relationships…[more]