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Celebrating the Life

The Crazy Iris and Other Stories of the Atomic Aftermath

[Longhorn Review] The Crazy Iris and Other Stories of the Atomic Aftermath

Material Type: All, Books — Tags: nuclear war social outcomes, nuclear war survivors — Posted on January 19, 2010, 1:16 pm

By: Kenzaburō Ōe

Readers who have read John Hersey's Hiroshima will find here a gentler
investigation of the psychological, emotional and long-term effects of the nuclear
detonations over Japan. This is a book of the small gesture, the pinpoint insight,
and a book of longing for what cannot be recovered. Readers of this book who can
bear it should also read Hersey's more clinical account of the events and their

As literature, this collection, which includes stories by a range of
authors, is not timeless art. But as a collective cry of the pain and resilience of
the human spirit and of culture over the barbarity of modern warfare, every single
story achieves its ambitions. The dislocation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors
colors their every experience of subsequent life and memory, and the effects ripple
down through the years and across the society until at last time closes over them.

In the decades since the close of WWII, we have become jaded by constant exposure to
apocalyptic media visions, while simultaneously the threat of nuclear war has
evolved from the idea of global holocaust to the more insidious acceptance of the
eventual likelihood of limited nuclear exchange. Everyone, no matter what their
beliefs, should meditate on the all-too-human revelations to be found in The Crazy
Iris and books like it, and ask themselves whether, as a species, we have the
requisite compassion to survive our own creations.

Reviewer: Dennis Trombatore

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