Nazi Cats!

Posted: 9 July, 2011 in Bookish, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy fourth y’all (I really gotta start posting these when I write them)

I just finished Art Spieglman’s Maus, which I had put off for some time and I must say it was a hell of a read.

Turns out the reasons I had been avoiding it were exactly the reasons I loved it. First off, it’s not another Holocaust story. I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but after having to read books like Number the Stars, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Night in school and viewing all those Academy Award winners such as Schindler’s List, The Pianist, and The Counterfeiters  I am about as Holocaust saturated as I can.

I was also originally put off by the art. It reminded me of old comic strips like Beetle Bailey but without colour and with  anthropomorphic mice.

What surprised me though, is that the art actually really complimented the writing. The art actually makes the comic NOT be about this idea of the Holocaust that we are all familiar with it and strips the events of Nazi era Europe of its connotations, fallout, and  connections to other stories of the same events and refocuses it on THIS story.

Running parallel to the story of Vladek’s experience with the Nazis is the ‘present day’ story which details Art Spiegleman’s writing the process for Maus and why he makes certain choices with the book which I felt helped clarify a few things. These parts of book were primarily about his relationship with his father. The Holocaust story then becomes far more interesting because it is then more about trying to understand Vladek, where he comes from, and how his life has affected his relationships with his son and his two wives (the first one having died years before the novel takes place).

All told, Spiegleman’s masterful storytelling and understanding about human relationships trumps any preconceived notions one might have about reading a holocaust story about anthropomorphic mice. A fantastic piece of literature and well deserving of its Pulitzer.


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