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Mirkat Always Reading

I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.

Currently reading

One Hundred Years of Solitude (Audio)
Gabriel García Márquez, John Lee

Gas Attack

Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche (Audio) - Haruki Murakami


I will confess that I had not thought of the 1995 Tokyo subway gas attacks since the news stories were current.  A religious cult called Aum was behind the attack, which involved releasing Sarin in various subway cars.  This non-fiction book comprises two parts.  The first part--which was once published without the second--consists of interviews with survivors of the attack as well as family members of victims who either died or remained incapacitated.  The second part, consisting of interviews with people involved with the cult, originally appeared serially in a magazine.


One of the fascinating elements of the interviews in the first part is the fact that so many of the people exposed to Sarin had the impulse to soldier through with their normal work routines, despite experiencing symptoms such as impaired vision, vomiting, and pain.  Then once they realized that something was wrong and they needed medical care, many encountered an emergency-response and health system that was ill-prepared to handle the situation.


The second section seeks, in part, to challenge the natural impulse to have an "us and them" response to the attacks.  The "them" of the cult members were very much a part of the "us" of Japanese culture.


I particularly enjoyed Murakami's remarks closing both of the two sections of the book, where he reflected on the overall effect of having conducted the interviews.