Thursday, August 12, 2010

Book Review: The Complete Maus

Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer-prize-winning graphic novel (the term may have been invented for this book) is a retelling of his relationship with his father, who survived the worst of the Holocaust, with anthromorphized animals as the characters. Jews are mice, Germans are cats, etc. (still trying to figure out who the fish are). I read this in high school and now returned to it thanks to it costing a dollar at the library book sale. If anything, it's more powerful now, because 1.) I'm now a parent and the scenes with family are familiar from the other side and 2.) I've visited Europe and know it's real, that this nightmare really happened. It's like the Good Will Hunting line when Robin Williams tells Matt Damon that to be in the Sistene Chapel is different than knowing about the Sistene Chapel. Spiegelman's graphic novel is harrowing and unsentimental, and it's a necessary part of the literary edifice to bring this down to our kids and let them know, this really happened and never again.

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