美国作家Tim O'Brien 的半自传小说《The Things They Carried》 是回忆越战的。 虚虚实实，从不同角度描写战争。 既没有褒扬也没有批判，让读者去感受细节，去评判历史。
全书共二十二节，既有关联，又各自独立。 第三节《The Spin》，长短正适宜忙里偷闲译两笔。 这样也算读过留字，并且省了读后感。
顺便提一下媒体，主要是电视, 对越战的影响。 战争初期，虽有反战示威，民众支持度还是相当高。后来由于电视的介入，真实残酷的血腥战争直接呈现在民众眼前，加上媒体每天报道日益增加的伤亡人数，让老百姓对政府的乐观说法产生了怀疑，由此对政府有了信用差距 （credibility gap）。 越战被称为美国的“First Living-Room War”. Freedom of the press 对越战的结束显然功不可没。
The Things They Carried --- Spin
by Tim O’Brien
《他们的负荷》之三 --- 《旋转》
The war wasn’t all terror and violence. Sometimes things could almost get sweeter. For instance, I remember a little boy with a plastic leg. I remember how he hopped over to Azar and asked for a chocolate bar – “GI number one,” the kid said – and Azar laughed and handed over the chocolate. When the boy hopped away, Azar clucked his tongue and said, “War’s a bitch.” He shook his head sadly. “One leg, for Chris sake. Some poor fucker ran out of ammo.”
恐怖和暴力并非战争的全部。 有时候，事情几乎可以愉快些。举例说，我记得有个小男孩，装了一条塑料腿。 他单脚跳到阿扎跟前讨巧克力的情形，我记忆犹新。“美国兵最棒了，” 小男孩说。 阿扎听了哈哈大笑，递给他一块巧克力。那孩子一跳一跳地离开时，阿扎咂咂舌头，难过地摇摇头，“战争真是个婊子。就一条腿呀，上帝啊。哪个可怜的混帐子弹用光了。”
I remember Mitchell Sanders sitting quietly in the shade of an old banyan tree. He was using a thumbnail to pry off the body lice, working slowly, carefully depositing the lice in a blue USO envelope. His eyes were tired. It had been a long two weeks in the bush. After an hour or so he sealed up the envelope, wrote FREE in the upper right-hand corner, and addressed it to his draft board in Ohio.
On occasions the war was like a Ping-Pong ball. You could put fancy spin on it, you could make it dance.
I remember Norman Bowker and Henry Dobbins playing checkers every evening before dark. It was a ritual for them. They would dig a foxhole and get the board out and play long, silent games as the sky went from pink to purple. The rest of us would sometimes stop by to watch. There was something restful about it, something orderly and reassuring. There were red checkers and black checkers. The playing field was laid out in a strict grid, no tunnels or mountains or jungles. You knew where you stood. You knew the score. The pieces were out on the board, the enemy was visible, you could watch the tactics unfolding into larger strategies. There was a winner and a loser. There were rules.
I’m forty-three years old, and a writer now, and the war has been over for a long while. Much of it is hard to remember. I sit at this typewriter and stare through my words and watch Kiowa sinking into the deep muck of a shit field, or Curt Lemon hanging in pieces from a tree, and as I write about these things, the remembering is turned into a kind of rehappening. Kiowa yells at me. Curt Lemon steps from the shade into bright sunlight, his face brown and shining, and then he soars into a tree. The bad stuff never stops happening: it lives in its own dimension, replaying itself over and over.
But the war wasn’t all that way.
Like when Ted Lavender went too heavy on the tranquilizers. “How’s the war today?” somebody would say, and Ted Lavender would give a soft spacey smile and say, “Mellow, man. We got ourselves a nice mellow war today.”
比方，泰德.莱文得过度服用镇定剂。 “今天仗打得怎么样啊？” 有人会问。 泰德.莱文得会温和诡异地一笑，“没啥，哥们。我们今天这一仗打得轻松漂亮。”
And like the time we enlisted an old poppa-san to guide us through the mine fields out on the Batangan Peninsula. The old guy walked with a limp, slow and stooped over, but he knew where the safe spots were and where you had to be careful and where even if you were careful you could end up like popcorn. He had a tightrope walker’s feel for the land beneath him – its surface tension, the give and take of things. Each morning we’d form up in a long column, the old poppa-san out front, and for the whole day we’d troop along after him, tracing his footsteps, playing an exact and ruthless game of follow the leader. Rat Keley made up a rhyme that caught on, and we’d all be chanting it together: Step out of line, hit a mine; follow the dink, you’re in the pink. All around us, the place was littered with Bouncing Betties and Toe Poppers and booby-trapped artillery rounds, but in those five days on the Batangan Peninsula nobody got hurt. We all learned to love the old man.
还有一次，我们招来一个越南老伯做向导，带我们穿越巴堂干半岛的雷区。这老头走路一瘸一拐，慢吞吞的，还驼背，但他知道哪里安全，哪里要小心，哪里就算小心，你也可能被炸成爆米花。就像踩钢丝艺人，他对脚下的土地有特别的直觉 --- 诸如地表潜在危机，地面吞吐物体的性能。每天一大早，我们就排成一长溜，老伯打头，我们一整天就跟着他，踩着他的脚印亦步亦趋，这种紧跟领路人的游戏，玩起来要不差毫厘，残酷得很。 莱特.凯利编了一个顺口溜，大伙齐声唱：脚出线，炸上天；跟着走，活得久。 环顾四周，到处散落着爆炸地雷，杀伤脚趾地雷，诱杀型炮弹。但在巴堂干半岛那五天当中，却无一人受伤。 我们都渐渐爱上了这位老伯。
It was a sad scene when the choppers came to take us away. Jimmy Cross gave the old poppa-san a hug. Mitchell Sanders and Lee Strunk loaded him up with boxes of C rations.
There were actually tears in the old guy’s eyes. “Follow dink.” He said to each of us, “you go pink.”
If you weren’t humping, you were waiting. I remember the monotony. Digging foxholes. Slapping mosquitoes. The sun and the heat and the endless paddies. Even in the deep bush, where you could die any number of ways, the war was nakedly and aggressively boring. But it was a strange boredom. It was boredom with a twist, the kind of boredom that caused stomach disorders. You’d be sitting at the top of a high hill, the flat paddies stretching out below, and the day would be calm and hot and utterly vacant, and you’d feel the boredom dripping inside you like a leaky faucet, except it wasn’t water, it was a sort of acid, and with each little droplet you’d feel the stuff eating away at important organs. You’d try to relax. You’d uncurl your fists and let your thoughts go. Well, you’d think, this isn’t so bad. And right then you’d hear gunfire behind you and your nuts would fly up into your throat and you’d be squealing pig squeals. That kind of boredom.
如果你没有弯着腰忙活，那就是在听候命令。 我还记得那是多么单调。挖散兵坑。拍蚊子。骄阳似火，酷热难耐，稻田一望无际。就是在丛林深处，你也会以各种各样的方式死掉。战争真是无聊透顶。但那种无聊非常怪异，是扭曲的无聊，是能造成肠胃功能紊乱的无聊。你坐在高高的山岗上，山脚下平镜似的稻田伸向远方，这样的一天原本平静、炎热，空荡荡的，你却感觉，无聊仿佛是漏水的水龙头，滴滴答答，砸落在体内。只是，那落下的每一小滴，不是水，而是某种腐蚀酸一样，分明在吞噬着不可或缺的五脏六腑。你试着放松自己，松开攥紧的拳头，赶走脑子里的胡思乱想。嗯，你揣摩着，也没那么糟糕嘛。 可就在那一霎那，身后传来枪声，你的心一下提到嗓子眼里，杀猪般尖叫起来。 就是那种情形的无聊。
I feel guilty sometimes. Forty-three years old and I’m still writing war stories. My daughter Kathleen tells me it’s an obsession, that I should write about a little girl who finds a million dollars and spends it all on a Shetland pony. In a way, I guess, she’s right: I should forget it. But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget. You take your material where you find it, which is in your life, at the intersection of past and present. The memory-traffic feeds into a rotary up on your head, where it goes in circles for a while, then pretty soon imagination flows in and the traffic merges and shoots off down a thousand different streets. As a writer, all you can do is pick a street and go for the ride, putting things down as they come at you. That’s the real obsession. All those stories.
有时我感到内疚。 自己都四十三岁了，还在写战争故事。 我女儿凯瑟琳说我着迷了，建议我写一个小姑娘， 把她发现的一百万美金，全都拿去买了匹设特兰矮种马。我想，从某种程度上，她说的对：我应当忘掉战争。但记忆这档子事，你就是无法忘却。在人生过去和现在的交汇点，你找到记忆，并从中提取素材。记忆像川流不息的车辆，涌上大脑的环形交叉路，绕一会儿圈子，旋即，随着想象力的输入，交通合拢，又分流到上千条支路上。做为一个作家，你能够做的，就是选择一条支路去兜风，把那些奔到你大脑中的事写下来。这是真正的痴迷。所以才有了这些故事。
Not bloody stories, necessarily. Happy stories, too, and even a few peace stories.
Here’s a quick peace story:
A guy goes AWOL. Shacks up in Danang with a Red Cross nurse. It’s a great time – the nurse loves him to death – the guy gets whatever he wants whenever he wants it. The war’s over, he thinks. Just nookie and new angles. But then one day he rejoins his unit in the bush. Can’t wait to get back into action. Finally one of his buddies asks what happened with the nurse, why so hot for combat, and the guy says, “All that peace, man, it felt so good it hurt. I want to hurt it back. ”
一个小伙子擅离职守，与一个红十字会护士在岘港同居。 真是一段快活时光-- 那个护士爱死他了 -- 随时随地，这小子总能随心所愿。他简直以为战争结束了呢，整天就是性和新姿势。可是后来有一天，他又重返丛林，回到了他原来的小分队。他甚至迫不及待地想冲锋陷阵。一个哥们终于忍不住问他，跟那个护士究竟闹什么矛盾了，干嘛这么想打仗，这家伙回答，“哥们，那些和平时光真爽，可感觉越好就越痛心哇。我想报复。”
I remember Mitchell Sanders smiling as he told me that story. Most of it he made up, I’m sure, but even so it gave me a quick truth-goose. Because it’s all relative. You’re pinned down in some filthy hellhole of a paddy, getting your ass delivered to kingdom come, but then for a few seconds everything goes quiet and you look up and see the sun and a few puffy white clouds, and the immense serenity flashes against your eyeballs – the whole world gets rearranged – and even though you’re pinned down by a war you never felt more at peace.
我记得米切尔.桑德斯给我讲那个故事时一脸微笑。我敢肯定，大部分都是他瞎编的，尽管如此，还是弄得我差点当真， 因为还算靠谱。 你困在稻田里一个肮脏的鬼地方, 屁股朝天，但稍后有那么几秒钟，万籁俱寂，抬头的瞬间，太阳和几朵柔软的白云，熠熠闪亮，将浩瀚的宁静投入你的眼眸 --- 整个世界就此焕然两样 --- 虽然战争如此令人压抑，你却感到从未有过的和平。
What sticks to memory, often, are those odd little fragments that have no beginning and no end:
Norman Bowker lying on his back one night, watching the stars, then whispering to me, “I’ll tell you something, O’Brien. If I could have one wish, anything, I’d wish for my dad to write me a letter and say it’s okay if I don’t win any medals. That’s all my old man talks about, nothing else. How he can’t wait to see my goddamn medals.”
一天晚上，诺曼.鲍克躺在那儿看星星，对我悄声说，“奥布莱恩，我告诉你件事。 如果我能许一个愿，随便什么， 我真希望我老爹能给我写封信，告诉我，就算得不到奖章也无所谓。他老人家翻来覆去，就不会说点别的。 他为啥就急着看我那些该死的奖章呢。"
Or Kiowa teaching a rain dance to Rat Kiley and Dave Jensen, the three of them whooping and leaping around barefoot while a bunch of villagers looked on with a mixture of fascination and giggly horror. Afterward, Rat said, “So where’s the rain?” and Kiowa said, “The earth is slow, but the buffalo is patient,” and Rat thought about it and said, “Yeah, but where’s the rain?”
哦，我还记得基奥瓦教莱特.凯利和戴夫.詹森跳祈雨舞呢。他们仨叫嚷着，光着脚丫蹦来蹦去，一帮围观的村民看得着迷，被吓得哈哈傻笑。跳完舞，莱特问，“雨在哪儿呢？” 基奥瓦回答，“地球反应太慢，但水牛很耐心哦。” 莱特想了想，又问，“嗯，但是，雨在哪儿呢？”
Or Ted Lavender adopting an orphan puppy – feeding it from a plastic spoon and carrying it in his rucksack until the day Azar strapped the puppy to a Claymore antipersonnel mine and squeezed the firing device.
还有一件事， 泰德.莱文得收养了一只无家可归的小狗 – 他用塑料勺喂小狗，把小狗放在帆布背包里，走哪背哪，直到有一天， 阿扎把小狗绑到克莱莫杀伤地雷上，揿了引爆器。
The average age in our platoon, I’d guess, was nineteen or twenty, and as a consequence things often took on a curiously playful atmosphere, like a sporting event at some exotic reform school. The competition could be lethal, yet there was a childlike exuberance to it all, lots of pranks and horseplay. Like when Azar blew away Ted Lavender’s puppy. “What’s everybody so upset about?” Azar said. “I mean, Christ, I’m just a boy.”
我估计， 我们排平均年龄十九或二十。结果呢，气氛常常古怪俏皮，就像某些异类教养院的体育项目。这种竞争非常危险，但都洋溢着孩子般的活力，当然不乏恶作剧和嬉戏胡闹。 阿扎把泰德.莱文得的小狗炸飞即为一例。阿扎说，“大伙为啥这么难过？我是说，上帝啊，我不过是个大男孩嘛。”
I remember these things, too.
The damp, fungal scent of an empty body bag.
A quarter moon rising over the nighttime paddies.
Henry Dobbins sitting in the twilight, sewing on his new buck-sergeant stripes, quietly singing, “A tisket, a tasket, a green and yellow basket.”
A field of elephant grass weighted with wind, bowing under the stir of a helicopter’s blades, the grass dark and servile, bending low, but then rising straight again when the chopper went away.
A red clay trail outside the village of My Khe.
A hand grenade.
A slim, dead, dainty young man of about twenty.
Kiowa saying, “No choice, Tim. What else could you do?”
Kiowa saying, “Right?”
Kiowa saying, ：”Talk to me.”
Forty-three years old, and the war occurred half a life-time ago, and yet the remembering makes it now. 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.
我四十三岁的生命中， 战争发生在半辈子之前， 然而，记忆又让它再度复现。有时，记忆会唤起一个故事，令人永难忘怀。 这就是故事的意义所在，它是连接过去和将来的枢纽。 当夜色如墨，你记不起来，你究竟从何而来， 又身在何处，故事就属于这样的三更时分。故事是永恒的，当记忆被抹去，当一切都忘却，唯有故事，仍将缭绕于世。
Tim O'Brien (born October 1, 1946) is an American novelist well known for writing about theVietnam War and the impact it had on the American soldiers who fought there. He won the U.S.National Book Award for Fiction in 1979 for the Vietnam novel Going After Cacciato.However, his best known work of fiction is the critically acclaimed The Things They Carried, a collection of semi-autobiographical, inter-related short-stories inspired by O'Brien's wartime experiences in Vietnam.
The Things They Carried is a collection of related stories by Tim O'Brien, about a platoon ofAmerican soldiers in the Vietnam War, originally published in hardcover by Houghton Mifflin in 1990. The Things They Carried employs heavy use of metafiction, as O’Brien has stated his belief that truth can be more effectively communicated that way. Many of the characters are semi-autobiographical, and readers of O'Brien's work will notice that some of the characters share similarities with characters from his memoir If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home. O'Brien dedicated The Things They Carried to the men of the Alpha Company with whom he fought during the war.
The Things They Carried works heavily with metafiction, employing a writing tactic called Verisimilitude, a style that meshes the factual with the fictional. This helps distinguish O’Brien’s literary approach from other authors. The Things They Carried is presented as fiction, but is couched in O’Brien’s experiences, lending credence to the events told in the book.