Ever see something so horribly heart wrenching that it took all of your energy and resolve to not spend the rest of the week bawling uncontrollably into tear dissolved tissue box? Then some time later you read something from the same setting and period, as well as the same national perspective as the former; but this time regards the same elements with an almost cold disregard?
That is more or less what I am experiencing right now.
A few years back I saw for the first time the Studio Ghibli film "Grave of the Fireflies." It is more then likely the saddest story I've ever encountered, telling the story of a brother and his little sister in late world war 2 japan, orphaned by a bombing raid and trying desperately to survive after being abandoned by self serving relatives.
Enter the book "Confessions of a Mask". Another story about a youth in World War 2 Japan, as well as another story that incorporates descriptions of the devastation and trauma caused by the fire bombing raids. Save this time it regards the grieving widows and burnt children with little more then passing remarks about how they seemed to be shadows to them, ghosts not sharing in their torment. A blind mole rat could spot the emotional schism in how these two stories deal with that horrible scene.
Now granted the focus of the book's story is not bent on the war and its tragedies as the film is, yet the shared plot element and association resulting from it is difficult to ignore. My initial reaction to the difference leaned on the side of revulsion; how could anyone regard that scene with such cold analysis?
After a bit more contemplation however it occurred to me that really it's probably the reaction most would have while passing by quickly on a train, that my perception was perhaps a bit skewed having seen one prior to reading the other, and that in a way seeing such a thing from that angle perhaps would allow me to both better appreciate how moving the film's story was and appreciate that it was not the shared story of the japanese during that time but rather just one small piece.