Go in pieces

This groaning, bedridden form is not Shizuko Akashi. Miss Akashi, a 31 year-old supermarket cashier, died on March 20, 1995, the moment her brain was so severely starved for oxygen that she permanently forgot her name, the face of her best friend from high school, and even her place of work. Not that she could work were her mind still present; the sarin gas that irrevocably corroded her nervous system has confined her to a wheelchair for the past decade, most of which has been spent in hospitals. In any case, she's no longer really there. There is someone there, someone who may dimly perceive that once she was something more: a whole woman who loved going out for noodles with her family, who maybe read young men's hipster fashion magazines when she was slacking off at work, who might have had a secret crush on the grim, stocky guy who came in several times a week to buy a pre-made lunch box. But that woman is no longer.

A presence has taken her place, living in the broken shell of the woman who was before. The presence is frightened, confused. The name of this new presence is Shizuko Akashi, but she has only recently learned how to say it. She has no memories of the life that the other Shizuko lived prior to the attacks. Miss Akashi's older brother, her primary caretaker, may sing to her or relate the latest family gossip when he washes her hair or assists her when she eats, but it is someone else he cares for and talks to. Shizuko Akashi is gone.

Shizuko Akashi and her brother Tatsuo are two of the testemonies interviewed by Haruki Murakami that forms a document that is not only the diary of a moment but the portrait of a whole society. The interviews spread themselves into a vast compendium of short stories. Each one branches out or growns into a colective memory of the Japanese nation. They were all conected to the event that blew in the underground stations of Tokyo where the Subway Sarin Incident happened, perpetrated by Aum Shinrikyo the Japanese religious group founded by Shoko Asahara, back on the 20th of March 1995.

This is a book that you can read in pieces. It lasts forever and you can get on at any station. Why not start with it at BLOOM?


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