Thursday, April 9, 2009

Maus: A Survivor's Tale

Maus: A Survivor's Tale a graphic story by Art Spiegelman

Spiegelman makes a number of visits to his elderly, cantankerous father to hear the older man's story of how he survived Auschwitz and World War II. Written in comic format, Spiegelman (both author and artist) tells his story of trying to learn his father's story amidst the father's daily life so that both stories are intertwined into one. It is easy to see how the father's current, penny-pinching ways, which so embarass his son and wife, are the continuation of those behaviours and attitudes that enabled him to survive the Nazis.

What's unique about the boxed set of two books is that each pane gives the reader visual information in addition to the text--something useful for readers who are unfamiliar with that time period. I like how he depicts the Jews as mice and the Nazis as cats. Other ethnic groups are depicted as different animals. When the Jews are trying to hide their identity, the drawings show the mice wearing face masks of other animals.

The Holocaust was a terrible time and Maus not only tells us, he shows us.

No comments: