Monday, July 13, 2009

Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman

Maus is the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and of his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father, his father's terrifying story, and History itself.
Moving back and forth from Poland to Rego Park, New York, Maus tells two powerful stories: The first is Spiegelman's father's account of how he and his wife survived Hitler's Europe, a harrowing tale filled with countless brushes with death, improbable escapes, and the terror of confinement and betrayal. The second is the author's tortured relationship with his aging father as they try to lead a normal life of minor arguments and passing visits against a backdrop of history too large to pacify. At all levels, this is the ultimate survivor's tale - and that, too, of the children who somehow survive even the survivors.
(Summary from jacket flap)

Graphic novels have always been a bit iffy for me. They don't seem to have the same amount of legitimacy as a novel with lines and lines of sentences and words and letters that have been put together artfully and thoughtfully and been rearranged a countless number of times. Pictures are so un-concrete almost light-hearted.

At least that was where I stood coming into this book.

Now I'm in a completely different place. Because Maus was amazing. Truly and seriously amazing.

The pictures are well done and the dialogue and narration fits in perfectly. Being able to see the expressions of the characters gave me a whole different perspective on the story than I would've had if it had just been written in prose. It was like watching a movie but one that was intelligent and creative and sort of monumental.

Maus tells the story of the Holocaust for goodness' sake.

I've mentioned my Holocaust obsession, right? I have one. It fascinates me. I can't get enough of it. Not the death or the horror but the knowledge. I feel like in order to be a world citizen I should be as educated and informed and horrified by the event as is humanly possible. Like it's my duty to understand the whos, whats, and whys. Please someone else say they feel this way.

Not only was this an outstanding graphic novel it was a moving illustration of what life was like for some of the Jews who were in hiding for months, trying to figure out what card the Nazis were going to play next.

The bad thing is that it left off just as the main character and his wife were being taken to Auschwitz. Which means I'll have to make a trip to the bookstore and get the second book.

So yeah, this is a phenomenal book. I recommend it to anyone and everyone. A must-read. Especially if you haven't read a graphic novel yet. This is a good way to start.



  1. Sounds amazing. Graphic novels can sometimes get at these huge stories in an exceptional way. Glad you liked it!

  2. I have been hearing great things about this one. Looks and sounds great. I am going to have to find myself a copy.

  3. I've never read a graphic novel, and I'm not sure if I would like it. But I do love a good Holocaust novel. It's so extremely interesting to learn about it. Elie Wiesel, author of night, is coming to my hometown to speak. I wish I could go but I'll be away at college :(


  4. I'm so glad you liked this! This was my first graphic novel experience and I really enjoyed it as well. Spiegelman is quite a talented man.

    Also, I have the same kind of fascination with the holocaust as you do. When I tell people I love movies and books on the holocaust I get weird looks, but it's not because I *enjoy* watching/reading about people's suffering.. I just feel like I need to know as much about it as possible and be as aware of it as I can (if that makes any sense.) Whoops. Now I'm rambling a bit. Anyway, point is: I'm pretty sure I know how you feel on the fascination-with-the-Holocaust front.

  5. I was working on this book for the library and skimmed inside, now I REALLY want to read it....I need to go put it on hold!!

  6. I think this boy is very intresting at first when looking at it i thought it would be something stupid more child like but as me and my son started reading it together it became more and more intresting i was more excited to read the book before bed time than he was, he really seemed to understand it and hes only 5

  7. This book was amazing. It really mad my heart weak hearing about what these people were going through, especially since the novel was about a true mans life. Screw Adolf Hitler!


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