Genre: Graphic Novel, Non-fiction
Setting: Poland from the mid 1930s to 1944, and the United States, probably sometime around 1979
My copy came from: I borrowed this from my local library.
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Review: Stunning. Beautiful and haunting. The Complete Maus is a graphic novel, and the first graphic novel I’ve read. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, and is truly an astounding work of importance. It is a non-fiction Holocaust account, but the story is told in a way that is different from other books. Since it’s a graphic novel, you have the black-and-white artwork of the cartoons, but Art Spiegelman has also drawn his characters as animals. The Jews are mice, and the Nazis are cats, and having these animal pictures, but human attributes, and a very real story really puts a different spin on the details of the Holocaust and I found the way this was told truly spellbinding and different. It forces you to look at the Holocaust with new eyes and really highlights the cruelty and senselessness of the Holocaust.
To die, it’s easy…but you have to struggle for life!
While this is a Holocaust book, there is also a story here of a father and son, as Artie talks with his father, Vladek, about his memories and his story. I found Artie and Vladek’s relationship very realistic, and I loved reading their interactions. Vladek is certainly a character, and the image of him on his exercise bike is one of the lasting images I have from this book. He just felt so very real, and I was very surprised to feel that connected to a character in a graphic novel.
I feel so inadequate trying to reconstruct a reality that was worse than my darkest dreams.
The one small, tiny issue I had with the book is that I felt it ended too abruptly. I wanted just a bit more at the end to wind things up. Perhaps I just wanted to spend more time with these characters, but all in all, this book blew me away and I really loved it.
Bottom Line: A must read. Stunning, beautiful, and haunting.
Have you read The Complete Maus? Did you love the father-son relationship? How about Mala – did she have good intentions or was she just out for money? Are you a fan of graphic novels? Any I should read?