The Night Circus is not a book for the speedy, automated, easily-bored, hurry-up type of person. It is not a McDonaldization of the novel. It is slowThe Night Circus is not a book for the speedy, automated, easily-bored, hurry-up type of person. It is not a McDonaldization of the novel. It is slow and sweet. It is from scratch. It is hands-on. It is do-it-yourself. It is moving your chess piece and waiting patiently for an opponent to do something clever.
I read this half of the Persepolis story several years ago and didn't like it. I don't know if I read too fast or misunderstood or even misunderstoodI read this half of the Persepolis story several years ago and didn't like it. I don't know if I read too fast or misunderstood or even misunderstood the first half, but I was under the impression that Marjane was sleeping around, not finding a satisfying relationship, and then sad about her choices and wanting me to feel sad for her, too.
Not true at all.
This go around I realized that Marjane was not fitting in well in Austria due to assumptions about her nationality (terrorist, extremist, etc.). Her friends at school try to be deep yet dismissive about world problems (they remind me of upperclassmen in college, actually) when Marjane has seen the direct result of war, sexism, fighting for liberty, censorship, and fear.
When she tries to fit in with her peers, Marjane feels she is letting down her family. The author balances Marjane's new life with her old by pausing to reflect on what she's doing in the moment and what she's seen in her past. How would her murdered Uncle Anoosh feel about Marjane claiming she is French so that she will not be labeled? The drawing style is simplistic, which accentuates both emotions and strict Iranian rules. When a character is happy or laughing, the mouths are clearly open or turned upward. When a character is mad, the eyebrows turn down and the mouth is an upside down U. It's very clear. Also, when Satrapi draws men and women in Iran, it's clear that these individuals are so covered that it's hard to tell them apart; women are large black blobs, and men all have beards. She even confesses that when she is in art school that she pretty much learned to draw drapes instead of people.
Another thing that I like about this graphic novel memoir is that Satrapi uses frames. In many contemporary graphic novels I've read, artists are doing away with frames and instead having a page full drawings and words, using only subtle techniques to tell the reader where her eyes should go. Not only is this "stream-of-conscious image confection" frustrating to me, but it doesn't make use of things like gutter space and shape and size of frames.
Lastly, Satrapi knows just how many words to use. Again, looking at contemporary graphic novels, I see that many of them are relying more so on words than images. The balance is lost. I've also see a lot of artists use arrows to point to small things and tell readers what they are, things that have no bearing on the story and don't matter to the reader. For example, one graphic novelist describes her bat mitzvah and includes a drawing. An arrow points to a boy we don't know and says that years later he would get married in the same hotel in which her party is held. WHO CARES?! Satrapi doesn't do this. At times, she has no words and lets images speak for themselves, like when the Guardians chase young men out of a party and one falls off a rooftop and dies. Satrapi doesn't need to narrate this; the images shows readers....more