Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Yes, Maus is a comic book, but it's not like any comic book you've probably ever read. The author's personal story is much more a central part of both books than I was expecting it to be, and I found that very compelling. The premise is the story of his dad growing up in Poland and surviving the Holocaust all the way to the end of Auschwitz, only with the Jews being anthropomorphic mice and the Germans being anthropomorphic cats (Americans are dogs and the Poles are pigs). This device serves to present the well-known history in a new light, especially when his dad is trying to pass as a non-Jew to stay alive - he puts on a pig mask and when people start to suspect he is in fact Jewish, his mask starts to slip. But the brutally honest story of the author's difficult relationship with his father (and dead mother) was the real surprise. I think we can all relate to his honest portrayal of parental relations. Seeing his scattershot progress of reconciliation with his ailing father as he hears the details of the Holocaust is very moving. I can see how this won the Pulitzer Prize.
I am counting Maus I and Maus II as one book, and the additional volume is serving as a counter to the fact that I only read half of the second book I read this year in 2010. So I'm legit now!