Richard's Reviews > Maus, I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History

Maus, I by Art Spiegelman
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's review
Oct 16, 11

Read in October, 2011

Maus is a book I've long known about but never felt compelled to read until I had the opportunity to hear Art Spiegelman read from his new book ‘Meta Maus” that tells the back story to the ‘Maus’ series”. Spiegelman is a master of the graphic novel, a form he essentially created with the underground comics that he did in the 70’s. A student and later co-conspirator with the of the late, great Harvey Kurtzman who brought you MAD magazine, in “Maus” Spiegelman tells the story of growing up in the middle class NYC burb of Rego Park, Queens in the 50’s/60’s and learning first hand from his father about the horrific treatment he and his mother et al experienced as Polish Jews at the hands of the Nazi’s leading up to their deportation to Auschwitz. In his telling of the story, the Jews are portrayed as mice, the Nazi’s as menacing cats which sounds kitschy but in his treatment all too effective. The panels are written in a straight forward way with Spiegelman as a young man querying his distant father to capture the story of his life and what we later learn his late mother while perfecting his skills in the nascent comic art form that later became known as the graphic novel.
Spiegelman’s treatment is heroic for its willingness to expose his less than pleasant relationship with father, his mother’s suicide in the 60’s, his apparent bout with mental illness and as horrible as all this sounds the story is told with a touch of humor and liveliness that makes ‘Maus’ and incredibly compelling read. Ironically, reading Maus put part of my misspent early adult years into perspective because I too lived in Rego Park albeit not until the early 80’s while attending the New School in Manhattan. As a goyim living in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood I was endlessly in awe of my neighbors , the deli’s, bagel shops (the best!) and the Jewish men that were always haranguing each other when I walked home from the D train to my flat. You–must-read–this–book!

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