Mel U recently reviewed the four stories featured in The Crazy Iris and Other Stories of the Atomic Aftermath, which were selected by Kenzaburo Oe.  Here are his thoughts; click the links to read the complete review of each story.

On “Crazy Iris” by Masuji Ibuse, Mel says:

The crazy iris evokes a world in which warrior traditions are destroyed and old folk beliefs about the protective power of flowers are turned into a  graveyard joke.   The atomic bomb somehow seems an inverted iris.   A messenger from long ago and far ahead that will have to be reread into the language of flowers.

On “Summer Flower” by Tamiki Hara, he says:

“Summer Flower” is as sad a story as I have ever read.    The beauty of the fashion in which the story is told somehow seems almost wrong.   Tamiki Hara is described  by Oe as the most  outstanding of the writers who survived the bomb blast.      Tamiki felt compelled to wrte about his experience  of the bomb blast as a kind of memorial to his wife.   There was censorship for several years of any writing by Japanese about the war (managed by the occupying forces and their Japanese employees) and his first writings were published in deviance of law.

On “The Empty Can” by Kyoko Hayashi, he says:

“The Empty Can” is only seventeen pages long.   It has more power to move than many works 30 times longer.   We feel we kow the people in the story and in some small way can feel how the bomb stole the lives of the living as well as the dead.    “The Empty Can (first published in 1978) is not a bitter work.   It is sadder and wiser for that.

On “The Colorless Paintings” by Ineko Sata, he says:

She[Sata] was an early advocate of women’s right in Japan.   She wrote several highly regarded and prize winning novels but “The Colorless Paintings” appear to be her only works in print in English.   Her longer works have never been translated.    Sata has a great affinity for the beautiful.   “The Colorless Paintings” has kind of a lonely feel to it.

**Attention participants:  Remember to email us a link to your reviews, and we’ll post them here so we can see what everyone is reading!**

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