The short stories that Noma Hiroshi produced in the years of confusion and self-questioning after World War II struck a deep response in his readers.
In the three stories contained here--"Dark Pictures," "A Feeling of Disintegration," and "A Red Moon in Her Face"--the main characters are all young men who have lived through the war but have emerged far from unscathed.
The "dark pictures" of the title refer to paintings and engravings by Brueghel, which the protagonist and his friends had viewed together. The miseries depicted in Brueghel's work seem in retrospect to encapsulate all the miseries the main character has suffered since seeing his friends: persecution, self-doubt, sexual anxiety, warfare, imprisonment, bombardment, and the miseries of life in Japan after the defeat.
The other two stories are set in the postwar world of black marketeers and bombsites, but they too concern young men whose universal anxieties about sexual desires and their place in the world are overshadowed by memories of the brutality of war.