Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Maus by Art Spiegelman

Sorry I've been away all week, but I just haven't been able to find the time or energy to do much else beyond what I absolutely had to do at work and at home. I know Alias Grace has been in my "Currently Reading" sidebar for quite a while now, but I haven't actually been reading it. I love Atwood, but I just couldn't get started on this book. I know I will in the near future, but right now I needed something else. So, even though I've been absent from the blog, I have been reading. I read Maus I and II by Art Spiegelman for the Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge. It's a graphic novel in two parts, which deals with one family's ordeal living through the Holocaust. I have had very little experience with graphic novels, so I wasn't sure what to expect. This book is actually based on the true story of the author's family, Vladek and Anja Spiegelman who both ended up in Auschwitz during WWII. Unlike most of the rest of their family, including their oldest son, they survived the war and emigrated to the U.S. afterwards. The book is very well-done and documents a well-known yet little understood event in history. I don't know how anyone can ever truly come to grips with what happened to so many people under the Nazis. In fact, in addition to the story of what happened to Art's family, the book is also about his difficult relationship with his father. Obviously the living hell that his parents endured changed them irrevocably. Art didn't always understand why his father was the way he was. So, writing this book served to help heal their strained relationship, as well.

As I said, I haven't had much experience with graphic novels. In the beginning, I was a little distracted by the drawings. But, after the first third of the book, I got into a rhythm, which allowed me to read and look at the drawings without being distracted. The book actually went very quickly. I'm glad I read it, and I'd be willing to read more graphic novels in the future.

Hopefully, I'll get back in my reading groove having finished this one. I'm feeling a lot better. It's just been a busy couple of weeks. In addition to moving my son into college, I'm teaching a class in the evenings in addition to my full-time day job as librarian in a community college. It's a new class so I've had to build the course from scratch. I think I'll enjoy it after I get everything planned out. I appreciate all the nice comments from you guys over the last week or so, as well. I'm already adjusting to the empty nest, and my youngest is adjusting to college life just fine.

11 comments:

Jena said...

I'm glad your first experience with graphic novels was so positive! I read Maus (my first graphic novel, too) for a lit class in college several years ago; those were, I believe, the only two books I didn't "sell back" at the end of the term. And I've bought many copies since to give to friends, mostly the ones clueless about graphic novels. ;)

Literary Feline said...

I think the Maus graphic novels were the first "grown up" ones I ever read. My husband is really into graphic novels and recommends ones he think I might like every now and then. I do enjoy them, but I so often put them at the end of my TBR pile.

Lisa said...

jena, I think Maus is a good introduction for people "clueless" about graphic novels, which certainly included me. That's one of the reasons that I try to participate in reading challenges -- it forces me to step out of my comfort zone.

literary feline, I know what you mean about the tbr pile. I will probably read some more graphic novels at some point, but my tbr mountain is so out of control, there's no telling how long it will take.

Gentle Reader said...

Maus was my first graphic novel, too--years back. After that I didn't really get into the habit, except for the occasional crossover graphic novel hit, like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, and Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. But my kids like graphic novels more than I do. Maybe it's a generational thing :)

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I just read this one as well. Overall, I liked it. I think the drawings could have been better though. Like you said, I don't know how anybody can come to terms with what people lived through under the Nazi's.

Lisa said...

gentle reader, I can see where kids would be more attracted to them. Although, I know they're not "kids" books.

natasha, I did like his choice of characters -- mice for Jews and cats for Nazis. I have no artistic ability whatsoever, so I'm easily impressed when it comes to drawing. :)

Dorothy W. said...

Teaching a new class is very hard, isn't it? And doing it in addition to a full-time job is even harder. I'm glad you enjoyed the Maus books -- I thought they were fabulous.

Tara said...

I just borrowed this from the library from another blogger recommendation! I'm a little nervous though...it's not my usual reading material.

Lisa said...

dorothy, yes, it is hard teaching a brand new class, but it's exciting, as well. I'm a little surprised that I did enjoy them because I wasn't sure I would like the format.

tara, I was a little unsure myself. It's definitely not my typical reading material. However, I was pleasantly surprised. I'm not sure I'll rush out and look for more graphic novels, but if something catches my eye, I'll probably be more likely to pick it up now.

Andi said...

Yay! I'm glad you liked it and took a chance on graphic novels in general. Maus was the first one I read, and I have to say that it hooked me very firmly. I was lucky to get hold of several more high quality ones after Maus (Persepolish I and II especially) so that kept me involved.

I hope things settle down for you soon!

Lisa said...

andi, I'm glad I read it, too. It's all thanks to The Year of Reading Dangerously. :) I honestly wouldn't have picked it up otherwise. I've heard good things about the Persepolis books. I'll have try one soon.