Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Graphic Novel Spotlight: MAUS

NOTE: Usually I post these spotlights on Thursdays, but today is Holocaust Remembrance Day and this seemed like an appropriate way to mark the occasion.
MAUS by Art Spiegelman

MAUS was the very first graphic novel I ever read, discovered by chance when I was browsing books about the Holocaust at my high school library. I don't believe it would  be hyperbole to say that that chance discovery changed my life. 

This is the story of Art Spiegelman's father, a Holocuast survivor. Book 1 takes us  from Vladek's life in prewar Germany, through the Nazis' rise to power, to the moment when he arrives at Auschwitz. Book 2 navigates his time in the camps to the end of the war and his eventual emigrationn to the US. For me, MAUS was an entirely singular experience. I'd read a great deal about the Holocaust so none of the abuses Spiegelman describes were entirely surprising. What made it shocking was the visuals (which shy away from nothing) and the close emotional tie to the story. Its not a beautiful book or overly sentimental. Art spends as much time frustrated with his father as he does sympathizing. The drawings have a rough sort of quality, almost like woodcuts, but that harsh style suits the harshness of the story.  

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