Monday, June 23, 2008

The Complete Maus...random thoughts

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman.

I finished this book a couple days ago, and to be perfectly honest, I just don't know what to say. There is no way I can do this book justice.

While still fairly new to me, I've now read a handful of graphic novels. But I've never read any like this. This book is powerful, heartbreaking, tragic. It is really book with layers of stories. And frankly, I can't imagine this book being written in any other possible medium than graphic novel form.

As for the layers, most obviously powerful, we have Vladek Spiegelman's life story of his years in Poland before and during World War II. The entirety of the Holocaust is so mind-boggling. It tears one up inside to hear about the camps and the millions who died so horribly. Yet somehow, reading one man's story is somehow even more overwhelming than reading about the Holocaust as a whole. How Vladek and his wife Anja survived through years of fear is hard to comprehend. In fact, at one point, Anja just wants to die and be done with it all. I can so easily see myself feeling the same way. But her husband gives her reason to live and keep fighting. But they do eventually get caught and are taken to Auschwitz, and of course the horror of their lives only increases.

But there is also the story of Art Spiegelman, the author who was born after the war, and his relationship with his father. It's not an easy relationship. Vladek is not an easy man to have a relationship with. In fact, in many ways, he's not an easy man to like. And we are left to question, as his son does, how much of Vladek's personality is shaped by his experiences during the war and the camps, and how much is simply who he would be no matter what. It's a truly moving story in itself, and it makes one think about how incredibly far-reaching the consequences of genocide, of human cruelty are.


If you have also reviewed this book, feel free to leave a link in the comments and I will include it here. Thanks.

Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot
Joy at Thoughts of Joy
Kim at Bold Blue Adventure


Read for:

Graphic Novels Challenge.


Jean said...

This is one I keep thinking about getting and reading, having read so many other books--fiction and nonfiction--about or set during World War II. It's too bad we can't have book queues as on Netflix, where we can list books in priority order, and they just appear when we finish something.

Anonymous said...

i still haven't read this yet - thanks for reminding me about it. its good to know that new readers are still finding it good...!

Carl V. Anderson said...

Wonderful review, Debi. This set of graphic novels is one that has unfortunately sat on my shelf for far too long without being read. I have heard nothing but good things and am sorry I haven't yet read these. I am glad to know that when I do that they will be as rewarding as everyone has said.

Ana S. said...

What a beautiful review, Debi! I suspected you'd feel strongly about this one. Well, to be honest I think it's one of those books that will have quite an impact on most readers. It's just so well done, and yes, I can't imagine in any other medium either. It just wouldn't be the same.

The far-reaching consequences of true, and so well said.

Anonymous said...

Must.Read. Thanks for cluing me in.

Debi said...

Oh, but that is one fabulous queues, wouldn't that just be the coolest?!!

You know, you chose the perfect word with "rewarding" there. "Enjoy" just isn't quite appropriate to use with this book, but you definitely won't be sorry you read it.

Thank you. And thank you for your review...if not for your powerful review, I'm not sure when I'd have gotten around to picking this one up. I think I would have eventually, but I feel grateful that this is now part of my experience, if you know what I mean.

Yes, you must. Seriously, if I could pick just one person who hasn't read it already, that I knew would "appreciate" it, it would be you.

Anonymous said...

Your review of the book has really moved me. I saw this first on Joy's blog and wasn't really interested. You have me thinking I need to go get a copy.


Debi said...

Thanks, J.Kaye. I really do think you would find it a worthwhile read. And I'll bet there's a good chance your library has it. That's where I got it, though frankly, I now kind of wish I'd just bought it!

Melody said...

Thanks for the review, Debi! I have not get this book yet, but I will after reading your and Nymeth's wonderful reviews. :)

Debi said...

You won't be disappointed!

Anonymous said...

I have read some great reviews of this recently and do intend to get a copy. It sounds and looks amazing and I am really looking forward to getting around to it.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Beautiful review! This sounds like an amazing story. I have been incredibly resistant to graphic novels (not sure why), but this one definitely goes on my list for when I stop being so darn stubborn.

Anonymous said...

Maus II is probably one of the best books I have ever read. Art Spiegelman is a freaking GENIUS.
His artwork is fantastic and just the way he created such a fantastic work which has SO many layers is unbelievable to me.
I have yet to read Maus I (though I've read a tiny bit here and there before I read Maus II) but it is on my bookshelf ready to be devoured. I just think the book is so much more than just what it seems at the surface. I could go on and on. It's just fantastic.

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