Using the comic book format to tell the story of the author's parents surviving the Holocaust seemed like a strange way of going about it. Now that I finished the book, I can't imagine how it could have been done better. Depicting Jews as mice, Germans as cats, Poles as pigs, French as frogs and Americans as dogs really seemed weird. But now upon reflection, it's amazing how much that facilitated conveyance of the emotion behind the story.
I read this book and it's companion, [b:Maus Vol. 2 And Here My Troubles Began|15197|Maus, Vol. 2 And Here My Troubles Began|Art Spiegelman|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327887479s/15197.jpg|1782551], as part of a book discussion group. A couple participants of the group also referenced the book, [b:MetaMaus A Look Inside a Modern Classic Maus|10420795|MetaMaus A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus|Art Spiegelman|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327933321s/10420795.jpg|15325080], which provides an expanded understanding of what all went into making the books and their graphics. In MetaMaus
the author answers such quesions as—Why mice? Why comics?—and gives the reader an insight into the creative process.
The story behind the story of this book seems equally horrific to me. The author's mother committed suicide after her son (the author) entered treatment for drug addiction and mental illness. That's profoundly sad in an ironic way because she had managed, with extraordinary determination, to survive the Holocaust. She had struggled mightily to survive the Holocaust, lost her first son during it, then raised a second son after surviving the Holocaust, and then finally gave up when it appeared that her second son had wasted his life. Needless to say, the author has to deal with issues of guilt--and this guilt is acknowledged in this volume.
The author's father says that his mother had written many accounts of her memories of the Holocaust in her journals in the hopes that some day her son would take an interest in them. Then his father admits that he burned all his wife's journals in a fit of grief after her suicide. Needless to say, the author has to deal with issues of anger--and this anger is acknowledged in this volume.
The following short review of this book is from the PageADay Book Lover's Calendar for June 11, 2013:
Prior to the publication of this Pulitzer Prize–winning graphic memoir, most adult readers thought that books with pictures and dialogue bubbles were 1) comic books or 2) not for them. Art Spiegelman’s enormously powerful recounting of his father’s cunning bravery during the Holocaust, and his own struggles as the son of a Holocaust survivor, is most certainly for everyone. If you read the first volume, you’ll want to read the second, so bring both home.MAUS I: A SURVIOR’S TALE: MY FATHER BLEEDS HISTORY
, by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon, 1986)