Firdaus was sentenced to death for killing a man, and although several people have offered to apply for a pardon or some kind of mitigation of her senFirdaus was sentenced to death for killing a man, and although several people have offered to apply for a pardon or some kind of mitigation of her sentence, she has staunchly refused any such interference. Our narrator is curious about this prisoner and wants to meet her, but Firdaus is firm - she doesn't want any visitors. However, on the night before she is to be executed, she changes her mind and decides to talk to the narrator. What follows is her story from her birth to the present, and all the ways she has been mistreated and taken advantage of.
Firdaus' story is not pleasant. Her father only wanted sons and didn't care for this girl who outlived all or most of her siblings. Her earliest memories of her mother show a woman who may have cared for her, but very soon she was replaced by someone (either a crueler version of herself or a stepmother) who didn't care much for her at all. She was circumcised by her mother, molested by her uncle, and made to starve most days - all before she was able to leave home. Her uncle put her in a school - the singular positive event in her life. But after school, there was still no future for her. She was married off to a 60-some year old widower, who didn't like her to eat much, if at all anything. After she ran away from his home, she was taken in by another man, who raped her almost every night.
The rest of the book is a litany of such events. Every time she trusts someone, that person backstabs her. It could be the woman who empowered her by making her a prostitute or it could be the man who professed his love even as he was getting engaged to another woman. Over time, Firdaus began to hate all men.
At face value, this story wasn't winning any empathy from me. Even though there are people out there who suffer tragedy after tragedy, making them very bitter for the rest of their lives, Firdaus' story seemed to me more manipulative than empathetic. But it isn't until the ending that I began to realize that there is a clear political message in this book. Nawal El-Saadawi does not share Firdaus' story with us to get us to be more interested in women welfare or to be more aware of violence against women. Instead, when Firdaus insists that she would rather be a prostitute than a wife or a career woman, she is saying that only prostitutes have any kind of power over men, even though men created the profession of prostituting for their entertainment. The wife has to bow down to the husband's desires while the career woman has to obey their male bosses' demands. But as a prostitute, she can demand her price, even if the man is the King of some country or a Minister.
This is a hard book to appreciate without having some context. Although it seems manipulative that Firdaus seems to go from one tragedy to the next, the truth is that in many countries, women are not even considered citizens. Even in the US, where women are freer than those in some other countries, they are still not often taken seriously. They are viewed as sexual objects, not trusted enough in boardrooms, and laughed at when rape statistics are quoted. In Firdaus' time and country (Egypt), they are whores who don't deserve a voice. The bigger context is that this book is not fiction. The author actually met Firdaus in prison when she was doing some research. (Ironically, the author herself gets arrested a few years later for her political views.)
The prose in Woman at Point Zero is cold throughout. Firdaus herself narrates her story and she is at a point where she does not care about anything, so there is not much emotion lacing her story. This makes for a very detached prose and although I enjoyed the first half of the book, I couldn't quite bring myself to like the second half. This makes it easy to not like this book, despite appreciating that Firdaus' story was tragic. The more I thought about this book, the less I believe that it was about Firdaus, despite being nonfiction. Instead, it was more about women oppression at its extreme. It is a story of how much a woman can cry foul and still not be taken seriously, but how one man can frown and get a woman sentenced to death.
At only a little over a 100 pages, Woman at Point Zero makes for a rather quick read, despite its contents. Were it fiction, it probably may not stay with me. It has a very fable-like feel about it - you see the cruelties of the society by the end but it's not a forceful enough story to make you ruminate the problems. A lot of it is symbolic and it can be appreciated only when you read it with companion books. I did end up feeling that I don't know enough about Egypt. Egypt was a country I loved learning about in my Geography class, especially when reading about the majestic Nile river. However, my history textbook was mostly silent about it, bundling it with the rest of Africa in one quick short lesson....more
Nicole Georges grew up believing that her father was dead. But one day, while in her 20s, a palm reader ominously hints that her real father is alive.Nicole Georges grew up believing that her father was dead. But one day, while in her 20s, a palm reader ominously hints that her real father is alive. Of course, she isn't someone who buys into anything fortune tellers say but she couldn't help but think about her real father (her mother had since lived with and/or married several men).
Her mother isn't the kind of person one could just ask about her father, so she had to try different approaches. One of her sisters suddenly seemed to want to meet her to discuss her father and around this time, she falls in love with Radar, a singer who encourages her to find out the secret about her father.
The title of this book really refers to a radio talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who happens to be someone Nicole and her mom listened to often, but whose impact to the story is limited to a few pages in the book. The book had a lot more going for it than just what the talk show host says to Nicole. Throughout the book, Nicole struggles with her identity, her being a lesbian, her idea of a father, and her relationships with her mom, her sisters, and Radar. A lot of it screams dysfunctional family out loud and makes you feel sad for Nicole. Radar is the most important person in Nicole's life at the time of these events, but even this relationship begins to get affected by Nicole's obsessions and insecurities.
I wasn't a big fan of this graphic memoir. It jumps too often in time and the chapters are too small and jarring. Maybe this is a book better enjoyed when reading it a second time. While I didn't love the artwork too much initially, I came to enjoy it over time. Not that the drawing is bad - it is pretty good. But I didn't find it contributing to the story too much....more
This food memoir probably needs no introduction. I have seen this graphic book on so many book blogs that I don't know why it took me this long to getThis food memoir probably needs no introduction. I have seen this graphic book on so many book blogs that I don't know why it took me this long to get to it. Maybe because it was a food memoir, which is something I always want to read but never feel like it is for me. But I love reading graphic memoirs and decided to give this one a try.
This book definitely lived up to all the good stuff that everyone has ever said about it. I loved it. I love food and I like cooking but I don't have the persistence to spend more of my time cooking though I always have this vision of me cooking more than I really do. Lucy Knisley owes her love and respect for food and cooking to her parents and the food-loving social circle she grew up with. Her father is a connoisseur of all things classy. He likes good wine, good food, good clothes, and good restaurants. He didn't cook but every time he traveled, he used it as an excuse to find and eat at the amazing restaurants in his travel destination. Lucy's mother was a chef and caterer and thanks to her, Lucy was an insider in the world of good food. No matter what the food is or if it was her first time trying a certain food, Lucy yearned to taste it and decide for herself if she will enjoy it. Quite unlike me, for whom the visual appearance of the food can be a deal breaker.
In Relish, Lucy talks about the role that food played in her upbringing and adult life. After reading it, it is really hard to look at food the same way as before, at least for a while. There is a lot of appreciation for getting the right quality of ingredients, embracing cooking as something to love rather than a necessary routine, and having an open mind and no prejudice about any kinds of strange or unappetizing foods. When Lucy was still a kid, her parents divorced and her mom moved from their NYC apartment to Rhinebeck, NY, where she started growing several vegetables and fruits in her garden. Although initially unhappy with the move, Lucy quickly begins to love this new rural life and learns a lot about the produce in their (and the neighbors') gardens.
Of course, like all young people, she goes through a phase of loving fast food, especially at McDonald's. Her parents don't like this at all but Lucy's love for non-fast food doesn't diminish. All through her childhood and adult years, she continues cooking. She mentions a memorable few days when she baked croissants after croissants trying to recreate the really amazing ones she had while on vacation at Venice.
Lucy was an art student and she feels art students make some of the best cooks because creating a dish is a kind of art - there is a good amount of visualization that goes into it and plenty of willingness to be bold with some choices in making the dish. If you are a fan of cooking shows, this is probably something you would strongly agree with - not necessarily the art student part but definitely the visualization part. When she was a kid, most of the people who worked in the kitchens at restaurants and bakeries in NYC were art students and musicians. Fast forward to when she is an adult, and the kitchens contain mostly people who are studying for a degree in a food discipline or on their way to becoming a professional chef.
There is much to love in this book. Who knew food could look so wonderful, yummy, and entertaining in a comic book? This isn't a traditional graphic book, where the illustrations do most of the talking. In some cases, the pictures speak a lot but in most cases, they are accompaniments to the text. However, when it comes to the recipes in this book, they certainly had more graphics than text. Lucy's family was hard not to love. I enjoyed reading about their experiences with food and all the trials they go through trying to create a favorite dish or cater to a new set of customers. Each chapter in this book focused on a different aspect of her life - her early teens focused on a fascination with fast food, her college days on her croissant baking attempts and on making dishes that her fellow students appreciated.
I am glad I finally read this one. Mostly, it has made me want to read more food memoirs and experience the journey these cooks/chefs/bakers had with food through their lives....more
I am Malala was never on my radar. Part of it had to do with the fact that I had not heard of Malala until this book began making the waves in blogospI am Malala was never on my radar. Part of it had to do with the fact that I had not heard of Malala until this book began making the waves in blogosphere. (Yes, I seem to be living under a rock. In my defense, I stopped reading the news about four years ago. I didn't have a desire to ruin my days after reading some particularly upsetting news.) The other reason was that I keep my memoir reading to a minimum, and I am never a fan of autobiographies that extoll the writer's great virtues. Luckily, Malala is one of the most matter-of-fact narrators I've come across. The only exclamations in her book are when she talks about having fun with her friends just like any regular schoolgirl should. There is no hint of arrogance or "I did a great thing therefore people worship me" attitude in it, and these made this book a seller.
If you, like me, had no idea who Malala is, this young Pakistani girl got shot by the Taliban in her own hometown because she was speaking out for education for girls. Talk about stuff that can get you killed in some places! Malala was 14 when this happened and the last 15-20% of the book follows this incident and her recovery afterwards. But it is the first 80% of the book that won me over. I cannot reiterate enough how much I loved Malala. She was just like any other girl I knew growing up. She had fun with her friends, she had opinions, and more than anything, she just wanted to be a regular every-girl who attended school without issues. Instead, the Taliban had different plans for her.
Her hometown in Swat was not a heavy Taliban area initially. There were boys and girls schools, and even some coed schools. But a certain Maulana Fazlullah was just beginning to slowly influence people with his religious and often misogynistic opinions. Over time, he began to condemn people who still let girls into school, while also publicly appreciating those girls and women who dropped off school. Malala continued attending.
Besides, her father was also an anti-Taliban activist. All he had ever wanted in life was to run a school where kids like Malala could attend. He encouraged Malala to be strong, though when the death threats started pouring in for him and Malala, he began to worry that he will regret his decision later. But Malala was becoming more renowned on her own accord. She was meeting government officials, writing a blog, and airing her opinions without fearing for her life. Her father was her role model and she had never seen him cower or hide in fear. So why should she?
Malala also gives a good history of her country, Pakistan, and its apparent friendliness with Afghanistan. I'm sure many people know that people in Pakistan also suffer from backwardness, thanks to an inefficient and ever-changing government and its physical and spiritual proximity to Afghanistan. But the latter gets in the news more, simply because the problems there are bigger in comparison to those in Pakistan. Malala is ready to criticize her country when something wrong is being done and also expresses embarrassment when negative attention falls on Pakistan, but her thoughts are nowhere near the disgusting or impractical ones that usually occupy the airwaves most of the time.
I purchased this book on Audible when I had to choose a book to complete a sale. Funnily, this is the book I listened to first, of the lot. The narrator, Archie Panjabi, did a great job narrating this story and made for a great voice in my car during the couple of weeks it took me to finish listening to this book. I am glad this book turned out to be informative (there is so much about Pakistan that I learned here - all interesting stuff too) and personable (Malala is certainly a charming person), but most importantly, this is a record of a little girl's triumphing over the Taliban, and that, in my opinion, is a great read anytime. On the other hand, books like these make me sad though, because for every well-known girl like Malala getting shot and saved, there must be countless other girls dying without a grave or newsprint to honor them....more
I have a confession to make. I have a morbid curiosity for what goes on behind some of the most popular technological companies out there. I love to fI have a confession to make. I have a morbid curiosity for what goes on behind some of the most popular technological companies out there. I love to find out how some of their products came into being, who decided who would become the CEO, and how these companies or people got funding to build and sell their products. I don't care much for established products of yesteryears such as Microsoft, Yahoo, or Apple. But dish me some of the sordid stories from Google, Facebook, or Twitter and I'll probably be all ears. I guess some of that interest comes from being a programmer myself but it's fascinating to learn how an everyday programmer, the likes of whom I see everyday at work, would build something that the world would just adopt heavily.
Still, none of that eagerness nor watching (and being shocked by) The Social Network prepared me for just how sordid a background Twitter has. Seriously, I'm surprised that such a discordant company led by people who barely got along managed to produce a product that is used by every Tom and his neighbor.
Hatching Twitter starts at the very beginning - with Blogger's creation. Evan "Ev" Williams developed what would become Blogger and it wasn't soon before it was bought by Google. After a brief stint at Google, he left the company and started a podcasting company called Odeo along with his neighbor Noah Glass. Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone joined shortly, along with several others who would be part of this group for a long time to come. Although they were officially building a podcast product (though that term was not yet in the mainstream), unofficially an idea to share status messages with other people in an SMS-like manner was taking hold among them. Jack Dorsey came up with the idea first, and soon they put together a very early version of Twitter. Then they sat waiting for people to sign up.
Except, it didn't get anywhere.
It isn't until months later that Twitter began to make a tiny name for itself at a time when startups were all the craze.
I found Hatching Twitter immensely fascinating. These founders are clearly very intelligent, but most of them were also very introverted or socially awkward. Twitter was a big part of who they wanted to be. As Noah often said, Twitter was where he could make lots of friends and not feel too alone, as he often did in real life. These guys bonded with each other easily, but some of them were quick to back-stab someone if it meant getting a leg up in the small Twitter corporate ladder. Jack and Ev abhorred confrontation and many a problem at Twitter could be blamed at their hesitation to address issues constructively.
Over time, Twitter's leadership changed hands quickly and people were getting fired. Jack Dorsey was made CEO first since Twitter was his idea after all. Noah Glass was fired from the company even though he was a big part of the company. When Jack wasn't fixing problems but trying to make new plans for Twitter, the board fired him and made Ev the CEO. The board would later do the same thing to Ev and make Dick Costolo the CEO. There were times I wanted to gouge my ears out - this company was filled with people who didn't know how to solve problems! Unfortunately, that's the story of many corporate companies.
If only the story ended there.
Just as in fiction, Jack comes back to get his revenge on Ev for firing him. He seemed to be playing some mental chess where he moved his pieces (the people influencing Twitter) around and managed to get back on top. At least, this is what the author says and after doing a fair bit of research since, this does seem to be true. Amidst all this betrayal and poor sportsmanship at Twitter, Noah's is certainly the saddest tale of all. He had a very effusive personality and was often a difficult personality to handle, but I got the feeling that he was also the only genuine person working at Twitter. Being fired from the one company he poured his soul into hit him too hard, so much that he has mostly disappeared from social media.
There were some interesting mentions that most of us users were a part of. Remember the #failwhale that used to grace the page of Twitter every so often? The #failwhale is also a big part of the book. I was amazed to learn that Twitter's failwhale woes hung around for years. I joined Twitter in early 2010 and even then it was the one page I ran into more times than any other. The #failwhale is also one prime reason for both Jack and Ev to get fired. Another interesting detail was that the Twitter founders didn't care for the hashtag. They considered it too technical and didn't think users would ever understand how to use them. Programmers do need to get down from their high horse and give people more credit....more
Having read and loved Raina Telgemeier's Drama, I was eager to read her Smile, which was really the only other book of hers that I'd heard about. (ImaHaving read and loved Raina Telgemeier's Drama, I was eager to read her Smile, which was really the only other book of hers that I'd heard about. (Imagine my wonder though when I discovered today that she has a whole series under her name - The Baby-Sitters Club, which luckily, my local library has the whole set of!) As soon as I finished Drama, I requested Smile from PaperBackSwap. I received my copy last night and devoured it in two sittings, and that too only because I had to step out on an errand.
Smile has every bit the same style of fun graphics that I loved the most about Drama. While Drama was fiction, Smile is a graphic memoir. When Raina was in sixth-grade, she tripped near her porch when racing with her friends and broke her two front teeth. One of the teeth fell out while the other went all the way into her gums and lodged itself there. (Yes, I cringed heavily during this phase. A tooth getting pushed into the gums is a spooky thought.) This harrowing incident was going to send Raina on a four-year trip through the world of dentists, periodontists, and other different kinds of -dontists, enough to upset her a lot about her physical appearance. Considering that she is also entering the world of teenhood, the accident couldn't have come at a worse time.
Smile was a lot of fun to read, mainly because Telgemeier laces her story with humor. At the same time, it isn't hard to see how much the whole incident hurts her. It doesn't help that her friends love ridiculing her, not giving her the support that she craves. She also learns first-hand the effect of smiling at other people. However, I struggled with her narrating style. There were sudden pauses in the story that seemed very jarring to me and when I expected more explanations at certain points, none came. It wasn't too big a deal really - Telgemeier makes up for it with her awesome graphics that definitely articulate the book Raina's feelings and worries very well.
And now, I'm off to post this book back on PaperBackSwap and pick up her series....more
I read Bossypants four months ago. For some reason, I have been postponing my review since I first wrote it couple of months back. Not that I am unsurI read Bossypants four months ago. For some reason, I have been postponing my review since I first wrote it couple of months back. Not that I am unsure of it or it was controversial or I had any such juicy reactions. Bossypants simply didn't fascinate me. This is the not the first time I was listening to the book though. I had first played the audiobook in my car two years ago when I went on a short drive - I did get to the halfway point before I had to return the book. I remember enjoying the book tremendously then - so it surprises me that I didn't like it too much this time around.
I really like Tina Fey. The husband and I watched Admission recently, and while the movie isn't award-winning material, it certainly was a nice entertaining way to spend a late evening. She is certainly funny - hilariously. In Bossypants, she narrates so many funny anecdotes that I ended up feeling that I had been living a very unfunny life. She talks about pretty much everything in this book - a lot of it on the sets of Saturday Night Live. But there's also a good chunk of glimpses into her private life - about female topics, college romances and teenage obsessions.
Despite how funny she was, I found most of her humor very self-deprecating. Depending on my mood, I find that brand of humor either very entertaining or very depressing. If you look through all my reviews of books boasting of self-deprecating humor, you'll find that I either really loved it or really hated it. But one thing is usually consistent - if I come across a lot of it at one go, I rarely ever like it. The other issue with me was that I have never really watched much of Tina Fey. Other than seeing occasional clips here and there, for the most part, she is just a name I know but whose work I am not too familiar with. Maybe because of that, I could never get fully interested in Fey's anecdotes. It felt like listening to someone I don't know talk about her day. If you are a Tina Fey fan, you'll probably enjoy it more than I did, that is if you haven't already read it yet....more
Marbles is a super important book for everyone to read because
1. it is a memoir, 2. it is a graphic memoir (so you see the world from the artist's eyesMarbles is a super important book for everyone to read because
1. it is a memoir, 2. it is a graphic memoir (so you see the world from the artist's eyes), and 3. it is a book about how the author realized she was bipolar and how she battled it.
Honestly, you have to read it to appreciate it. Although the beginning of the book felt like being thrown into a wild roller-coaster ride without really having the time to understand what was happening, I loved that it was also a reflection of the author's true nature. Ellen has a wild personality, when she is manic, which she is when the book starts. She is an unimaginable bundle of energy who has a zillion ideas about what to do and what projects to start and what parties to plan. It is exhausting just watching how she spends her time. Her social worker recommended that she meet a psychiatrist and that is when she learns that she is bipolar. But she doesn't want to do anything about it, because hey, all this immense energy has to be a good thing, right? As she recounts, when a bipolar person is going through a manic phase, she has a skewed optimistic memory of what a depressive phase actually feels like. So when the depression hits her a few weeks later, and armed with the knowledge that she is bipolar, she finally understands why she has to treat her bipolar disorder.
The treatment isn't a piece of cake though. She is an artist and after finding out that many famous artists have also suffered various mental disorders, she wonders if the disorder is what makes her an artist. Plus, none of the medicines really work too well on her (for reasons she reveals to her doctor towards the end).
I loved this book. I will admit that it was a challenge reading it occasionally, if only because of her energy. In person, I struggle with people who have so much energy. So I found it amazing that this book had the same impact on me - the author certainly portrayed herself well in the book. But it was totally worth it. It was as good as (and maybe even better than) books about mental disorders, especially considering that pictures can enhance the story too.
Soon after finishing We Bought a Zoo, I began to fancy adopting some really crazy project. Like buying a zoo or a restaurant. Or a big farm. Or livingSoon after finishing We Bought a Zoo, I began to fancy adopting some really crazy project. Like buying a zoo or a restaurant. Or a big farm. Or living 100% on homemade food. Of course, I wouldn't do any of those. At least not in the forseeable future. But reading this book did get me thinking about how wonderful it would be to take on such a huge project and watch it arrive at fruition.
I first heard about this book after the movie based on it and of the same title was released. There are typically two simultaneous reactions I have to books like these: 1. What? They bought a zoo? They are absolutely nuts! 2. But, how wonderful it is - to buy something that's on the verge of extinction and to transform it into something beautiful? *go starry-eyed*
So, when I saw this audiobook in the library, I had to take a crack at it. The author, Benjamin Mee, and his wife, Katherine, saw the ad for a rundown zoo and applied for it. Their application was rejected and then they promptly forgot about it. Until they chanced upon another ad for the same zoo, a few weeks later, this time with the implication that the animals may be killed if the zoo gets no buyers. This time, their application was accepted and they became the new owners of the zoo.
A lot of the book focuses on the challenges the new owners face at the zoo. The workers at the zoo are not used to giving their opinions and Mee tries to change that. There is a lot of redesign work involved - enclosures that need to be moved, animals that are better off at other zoos, even rethinking which animals can be allowed to interact due to jealousy or compatibility issues. The zoo also brought with it a lot of baggage, thanks to issues under the previous owner and simply poor execution.
There's also the animal aspect of the book. Owning a zoo means coming in contact with a whole host of animals - from the timid to the murderous ones. It also means forming a bond with many of them, be it with a jaguar or a tiger. The author also points out the "special" animals - those that are endangered and need to be bred in captivity to continue their species. And then there are those that are released into the wild - after years of being within closed enclosures, this is not a natural concept for any of the animals.
The other focal point of the book was Katherine. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor shortly before the zoo was purchased. The tumor was successfully removed but there was an increased risk that it would come back. And kill her. It did come back more vehemently than before and the decline of Katherine was a pretty hard part to listen to. Mee talks about his emotions while grappling with the danger of losing Katherine without making it over-dramatic (although one can be excused for behaving any way when they are losing someone they love).
Much as I loved the story of this book, I wasn't a fan of the writing. I found it way too informal than I liked it to be and if I were reading this book (as opposed to listening to the audio), I would have put it down very early. We Bought a Zoo made for a wonderful book to listen to in the car - I found myself rooting for Mee when he was dealing with the challenges of the zoo and crying with him when he was battling his wife's cancer....more
I first read Maus in March of 2011. I remember approaching it with some trepidation - after all, this book is in a lot of lists and has even won the PI first read Maus in March of 2011. I remember approaching it with some trepidation - after all, this book is in a lot of lists and has even won the Pulitzer. What if I didn't get the "greatness" of this book? When I finished it, however, I loved it. This book blew my mind in a way no other graphic book did but when I sat down to review it, I couldn't for the life of me string two words together to form a coherent review. I eventually decided not to review it. Some books are great, and it is enough to say that.
Last year, I reread Maus. That's rare for me - I rarely reread and if I do, it is always the Harry Potter books that get that honor. So I'm not sure what made me want to reread this one, though wanting to read MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus after, may have something to do with it. I reread Maus and rediscovered how amazing this book is. Again though, I couldn't put a review together to say all I wanted to. But I'm giving it a try this time.
Maus is a graphic memoir/biography written by Art Speigelman about his father's WW2 experience and Art's years interviewing his father for the details. Art's father, Vladek was a Holocaust survivor, who managed to survive the unspeakable horrors with his wife, Anja. They lost their first son, Richie, to the genocide - the son who was now a photo on a mantel, and was often this idea of a perfect son causing Art to bristle at that. Art was born after the war and had no idea of the profundity of the life his family led before the war though he knew that they were survivors.
Maus is both Art's and Vladek's story. On the one side, Art narrates his father's story, as told to him by his father, beginning from his marriage to Anja to the end of the war. Theirs is a story of intense suffering. After managing to ride out the initial calls to camp, they were eventually brought to Auschwitz, where they were separated, each with no idea of whether the other had survived.
On the other side, in listening to and narrating Vladek's story, Art begins to feel several negative emotions. He feels that he didn't achieve much, considering everything that his father had been through. He feels annoyed that he is not a Mr. Fixit, while his father has an innate knack for how things work. He cannot stomach his father's miserliness, even though his father learned to stock and hoard after seeing the value of things in WW2. Art also gets bouts of depressions while he wades through his father's recordings and looks to a psychologist-friend to help him out.
During my second time with this book, I found some sections I didn't recollect. Part of it is because who remembers everything about a book? But part of it is also because every snippet in the book contains several layers, and it generally takes several rereadings to get it all. I even reread some sections a third time while reading MetaMaus, and found even more things to wonder about. This isn't a complicated graphic book. But it is a very well-made one with only the important stuff jumping at you at first read and then more elements of the situation becoming obvious on rereads. Art's use of animals to characterize in Maus is now legend. And in MetaMaus, he explains more about why he did that. It wasn't hard at all to look behind the mask and to empathize with the suffering mouse.
There is so much about Vladek that is endearing. A lot of his personality was born through his experiences in WW2. As Art mentions once, I did feel that Vladek was incredible lucky as well. He was resourceful, and had a few useful talents and contacts that helped him a lot at Auschwitz. Still, that is not to say that he didn't suffer. His wife wasn't that lucky, but she thrived in her own way. They both lose a lot though. There are some truly heartbreaking scenes in this book, such as when Vladek's father was registering to get papers along with other Jews, he decides to skip over to the "wrong side" to join his daughter and her four kids when he saw that they were going to Auschwitz.
If you haven't read Maus yet, you absolutely have to. Whether you read graphic books or not, whether you are tired of WW2 stories, whether the mouse and cats in books bother you, Maus is a book that is very accessible, moving, tragic, and empowering....more