Persepolis is often discussed in the same breath as Maus, and now that I'v...moreYou can read more of my reviews, faster, at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
Persepolis is often discussed in the same breath as Maus, and now that I've read both I think that this is an appropriate comparison. Maus is an autobiographical comic book that tells an almost fantastical portrayal of the holocaust by using mice for the Jews and cats as the Nazis. Rather than taking away from the seriousness of the situation, the fantasy element makes the chains of events more striking.
Persepolis, on the other hand, is an autobiographical comic book about a young girl growing up during the Islamic revolution in Iran. She is very young, and precocious, so there is an element of fantasy here, too, as what one might expect to see through the eyes of the child. When the movie theater was burned down with the people alive inside, the drawing of the people blended with the flames, like ghosts of fire, haunted me, and stayed with me. A lot of the violence and horror was like that, all the more frightening by what was missing.
Marji is a very likable protagonist. She's like one of those annoying but endearing children who always have to ask, "Why?" I loved her parents, and how open and honest they were with her. Before the Islamic revolution, Iran was one of the more liberal Muslim countries. Marji attended a French school with boys and she and the women in her family did not have to wear veils.
After the revolution, all of that changed. The people in Marji's family were persecuted - and even executed - for their communist sentiments. Friends and their relatives were thrown into jail. Women were threatened with rape on the streets for not being properly garbed in a chador. This happened to Marji's mother, and she came home in tears, absolutely frightened out of her mind. There was an air-raid in Tehran by Iraqi soldiers firing SCUD missiles, and one of them hit the house next door to Marji and her family, killing their Jewish neighbors. We are treated to another horrifying scene- Marji sees her friend's turquoise bracelet in the rubble, around a bloody piece of flesh.
This is not an easy read. My heart hurt nonstop throughout this journey, and I cannot even attempt to imagine what it must have been like to grow up in a war zone. I cried several times, especially at the end. It is truly terrible what goes on in other parts of the world. Anyone who thinks we ought to go to war or bomb Iran needs to read this book. It's easy to reduce a country to an abstract, but we need to remember that innocent civilians are caught in the crossfire, too. People like Marji, and her family.
My mother gave me this book and since I (mostly) trust her judgement I did...moreYou can read more of my reviews, faster, at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
My mother gave me this book and since I (mostly) trust her judgement I didn't even bother reading the summary. Since it was sandwiched between two nonfiction tomes I assumed it was a collection of autobiographical essays about a man in the South Pacific researching about butterflies. You might think that sounds dreadfully boring, but honestly, after reading Rachel King's The Sound of Butterflies, I almost think I'd prefer that from what I actually did get.
Not that this book was bad.
This is one of those books where, you read it, and aren't bored, but it isn't exactly your thing, either, so it's kind of like filler to while away the time between books. It made me think, which I like, and I learned some new things, also a plus, but it wasn't me, and I was never completely engaged. I like losing myself in a book.
So, A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies is a collection of short stories, mostly about NGOs, researchers, scientists, FoB/second gen immigrants, and family misery. None of these stories are happy, and nearly all of them involve death of some sort or another.
I enjoyed the book, and several stories, such as the titular work, were really quite good and would have worked better as full length novels. Others were dull and pretentious, and seemed to rely more on the writing than any actual characterization or story-telling ability. This doesn't work well. It's like dumping a bunch of tinsel out of a box and calling it art.