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The Complete Maus
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February 2016: World War II > The Complete Maus/Spiegelman - 4 stars

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Anita Pomerantz | 6431 comments This book is my very first graphic novel! I would definitely try another one based on this experience.

Going into reading this, I expected it to be about World War II and the plight of the Jews - storylines that are very familiar to me as a Jewish-born woman. Spiegelman relates the story of his father in Nazi Germany well, but honestly, I was much more intrigued and amused by his relationship with his father. It is a little hard to understand if you aren't Jewish, but the way Art relates to his father, Vladek, is very familiar to many American Jews. His story is not just his alone, but the story of many Jewish families. The love, the guilt, and the annoyance . . .

Here's a very typical anecdote . . .I've had riffs of this conversation with my mother (not to mention grandmother) MANY times, and she is young and not a survivor . . .but these are cultural things that get passed down.

Vladek: Please just taste and you'll see how good it is.
Art: No thanks. I don't like Special K
Vladek: But it has SALT and also sugar. For me it's poison. I'll give for you a little, yes . . .?
It's a shame to waste. I'll pack and you can take it home with you.
Art: The box is almost empty. Just leave it here.
Vladek: Okay, if not, is not. Only just try then a piece from this fruit cake.
Art: I'm NOT hungry.
Vladek: So fine. I can pack the fruitcake in with the cereal for you to take home.
Art: Look, we don't want any, ok? Just forget it.

These vignettes are sprinkled throughout the book, and for me, they made the whole read extra special. The father/son relationship is revealed, but completely colored by the father's experience during the war.

For me, I don't see reading the first part without the second . . .the two together were considerably more than the first part alone. The second part really reveals a lot more in my mind about Vladek's character than the first. It also illuminates the difficulty children have relating and caring for their elderly relatives. I could really relate to it.

I didn't give it the fifth star because honestly, I think I could have enjoyed this book just as much, if not more, had the story been related in more standard prose. The graphics didn't really add to my reading experience nearly as much as I thought they would. I appreciated the book greatly, but I wasn't really moved by it emotionally.

message 2: by LibraryCin (last edited Feb 21, 2016 08:11PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

LibraryCin | 8318 comments I'd recommend Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood for your second graphic novel. :-)

Glad you enjoyed this one (even if the illustrations didn't really "do it" for you).

message 3: by Sara (new)

Sara (mootastic1) | 770 comments I agree that reading both books together is absolutely necessary. I actually feel the same way about Cindy's recommendation. Even though I read both of Satrapi's books a year or so apart, I feel ike the second greatly enhanced my understanding of the first.

Anita Pomerantz | 6431 comments Sara wrote: "I agree that reading both books together is absolutely necessary. I actually feel the same way about Cindy's recommendation. Even though I read both of Satrapi's books a year or so apart, I feel ik..."

Thanks for validating that point in my review, Sara. I thought the second book was really the heart of the story. I will keep that in mind for Persepolis (thanks Cindy for the recommendation!).

message 5: by Jenni Elyse (new)

Jenni Elyse (jenni_elyse) | 1303 comments I'm glad you had a nostalgic experience reading the non-WWII parts. I really enjoyed reading your review there because there aren't many Jewish people where I live, so I love getting these types of tidbits from my the Jewish friends I do have.

I liked the second half more than the first half. Although I always hate saying liked when it's about something so awful. But, it was more heartfelt to me, I guess. I think it's because as a graphic novel, I felt like it was a little shallow. Not shallow as in, "she's a shallow person" but shallow as in I wanted more depth and insights into the people. I had to rely on the pictures for that and I'd rather read it if that makes sense. I guess I'm not a graphic novel person.

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