“Spiegelman has turned the exuberant fantasy of comics inside out by giving us the most incredible fantasy in comics’ history: something that actually occurred…. The central relationship is not that of cat and mouse, but that of Art and Vladek. Maus is terrifying not for its brutality, but for its tenderness and guilt.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
An amazing book. I thought it might be a little weird reading a graphic novel about such a serious topic as the Holocaust but in fact it was incredibly moving.
Art Spiegelman writes and illustrates the story of his parents, particularly his Father, how they met in the 30’s, married, survived WWII and a little about their life afterwards.
It really does feel like his father’s story in his own words is just being transcribed for us, grammatical errors and all, and this just makes it so much more real and hard-hitting. Vladek is a very human figure, depicted warts and all and his descriptions of the lengths he went to to survive and to try to help his wife Anja to survive are heartbreaking. In many ways he seems like an unlikeable character, miserly and penny-pinching and ungrateful to those around him, but seeing his story play out its easy to see how he came by these traits. Anja, the writer’s mother committed suicide in the 1960’s and this is also described in the book, which moves between the present and the past.
The use of mice to represent the Jews and cats as the Nazi’s is inspired, it really does highlight the helplessness of the situation these people found themselves in. The simple drawing style and use of only black and white is good, it does not distract from the story.
A must read written with all the love and warmth of a son for his father.
Added 19th February 2020