NextDraft tipped me off that it’s the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima. A long time ago, I wrote my thesis in grad school on American literature and the way story telling changed after World War I and World War II. For ancillary reading, I read John Hersey’s Hiroshima, which is utterly devastating. The New Yorker is re-running it here. I dug around in my books to find my copy, but I must have put it into storage. My copy looks like the image here, but is more beat up. The original paper cover persists, however, the pages are thick stock, but brittle. Typically, once I read Hiroshima, (which takes place August 6, 1945) I re-read Slaughterhouse-Five (incidentally, I have two copies – one with me that is a beat-up paperback that is bordering on illegible with all my notes from writing my thesis, and a gorgeous, pristine first edition my husband gave me, like the image in the Wikipedia page – which is in storage). The bombing of Dresden, which so ruins Billy Pilgrim, occurred across Valentines (Feb 13, 14, 14) 1945 – 6 months before Hiroshima. If I’m feeling like I haven’t gone far enough into the rabbit hole, I’ll then move on to Maus, which is gripping and traumatic, and tells the entire story of the Holocaust in flashback form. Then, typically, I marvel at how simultaneously far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.
Please take the time to read Hiroshima. Let’s not forget.