In The Guardian, celebrated correspondent Janine di Giovanni has selected
The top 10 books of war reportage
One of his choices (whole list and link below) includes ‘Hiroshima’, John Hersey’s incredibly powerful 1946 report on the aftermath of the first atomic bomb ever used on people.
Hiroshima may be a footnote in ancient history to most of the world, but not to the people of Japan where the memory of the appalling destruction and carnage is still vivid and alive.
I was at a science fiction convention in Yokohama when a a Japanese translator felt compelled to interrupt a discussion by lily-white, mostly American and almost completely oblivious panelists obliquely talking about the war before an increasingly antsy Japanese audience. After his cautioning remarks, the subdued panelists continued with a bit more sensitivity.
And if, after Giovanni’s list, you’re still looking for reading material… there’s this novel called “Letters from the Fire‘, covering a different war, a “smaller” war (if there is such a thing), a war which didn’t end with a mushroom cloud… but which – as EVERY war is – was still full of loss and pain and confusion and devastation.
Unlike most books on the list, it’s a novel not war reportage – but it is based on absolute fact, so much so in fact that when it was first published I caught a young and earnest bookstore clerk filing it in the ‘Non Fiction’ section of the shop. When I pointed out it was fiction, he looked genuinely baffled and asked, “Are you *sure*?”
“Reasonably,” I said, “I wrote it.”
But he might have had half a point, actually. It’s fiction… but this is as real as it gets.
I don’t know what it is about war, about its brutality and its callousness and its vainglory and its bitter, bitter triumphs and tragedies which are one and the same thing because what is a triumph for one side is invariably the other side’s tragedy and it’s a matter of luck as to which side you land on. I don’t know what it is. But even while we continue to fight them – usually for no reason that anyone can really remember after the whole thing is done – some of the most incandescent writing and some of the most incredibly poignant human understanding possible has also been born in the flames of war. Perhaps it’s worth reading about the ones past – and if you read enough maybe you’re going to reach the point of enlightenment where another becomes unthinkable.
I’ll drink to THAT, at least.
From the list: The devastated city of Hiroshima. Photograph: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images
Hiroshima by John Hersey
And here is where compassion lies. All the brutality and horror of war down to the most base level, told by six survivors.
The Suicide Note as Literary Genre
Feature image: “Bedford and the River Great Ouse,” J.M.W. Turner, c. 1829
“Everything has gone for me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.”
“So ends Virginia Woolf’s poignant suicide note, addressed to her husband,” Dustin Illingworth writes at Literary Hub. “It is a throbbing document, hauntingly beautiful, in which a decision is made to part with a rote anguish.
“This, then, is the morbid fascination of the literary suicide note: that it is, perforce, the final written work of the author in question. If we believe that writers possess a special relationship with language—one in which the incommunicable is somehow voiced—we might be forgiven our curiosity for what these moments of literary extremity are able to reveal of the inviolate mystery of death.”
Adult dolls. Not for children – and NSFW
The Enchanted Doll is the brand of the Russian jeweler artist and designer Marina Bychkova who makes absolutely incredible porcelain and polyurethane dolls for adults.
She creates unimaginable dolls which are valued by connoisseurs all across the planet. Marina’s dolls are not smiling; they are pensive, mysterious, and sad. Each of them has their own soul, their own destiny.
THIS & THAT
Teams of Tiny Robots Can Move 2-Ton Car
Microrobots Video by bdmlstanford
Taking inspiration from ants, researchers at Stanford are designing tiny robots that have the ability to pull thousands of times their weight, wander like gecko lizards on vertical surfaces.
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