Monday, March 15, 2010

recommended reading

as planned, i completed Maus - A Survivor's Tale ( I: My Father Bleeds History) and then immediately picked up Maus II (And Here My Troubles Began) and read it through in one sitting.

brilliant. harsh. moving. difficult. compelling.
and highly recommended. i'm encouraging a certain professor to get it on his curriculum for the next school year. details for the 'Complete Edition' available here. alternatively, support your local comics store.  

"Then you think it's admirable to survive. Does that mean it's not admirable to not survive?"

"Whoosh. I - I think I see what you mean. It's as if life equals winning so death equals losing."

"Yes. Life always takes the side of life, and somehow the victims are blamed. But it wasn't the best people who survived, nor did the best ones die. It was random." 
        - Maus II, Chapter 2: Auschwitz (Time Flies)  p.45.



  1. I had a professor many, many years ago who assigned Maus for her Jewish Lit. course. It was the very first graphic novel I'd ever read. It moved me, too, though the thing I remember most about it was the kids grandpa being a packrat - picking up bits of string and things on the ground - just in case he might need them. Apparently this is a common survivalist idiosyncrasy

  2. yep. that was Art's father, Vladek.
    the need for a piece of string in the camp was literally the difference between a person surviving and dying. he collected like his life depended on it. trapped in that desperate attempt to survive.
    i think Vladek's obsession with the smallest of scraps spoke for the whole. not only as a reality of what survival looked like, but as a metaphor for how it's only in the details of one person's story that we have any hope of connecting to horror on that scale.

    it seems almost wrong to praise it as a work of art given the context. and yet it undoubtedly is. but its beauty is maybe that the form, the technical brilliance of it, the use of detail to tell it never overtook the emotions, the raw humanity of it - never overshadowed the reality of what the detail actually meant. a scrap of string as a metaphor, never overtook that piece of string as a very real matter of life or death.

    powerful powerful stuff.