As part of the Non-Fiction Five Challenge I decided to start with my latest book obsession…graphic novels. And my “first selection” was actually it was two books that I read and will be reviewing as one. Art Spiegelman has been talked about for some time now and particularly his Maus books. I must add to the growing list of admirers of the Maus stories.
The first book Maus A survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History introduces the reader to the Spiegelman clan and the unique way of tell the story of World War Two. As many of you are already aware, I’m sure, the Jewish community is represented by mice and the Germans are represented by cats. With a host of other animals including frogs and pigs. This first part is all about the Spiegelman’s rise and fall from wealthy shop owners just prior to the second world war.
The second book Maus A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began starts where the second book ends with there entrance into the concentration camps started by the Nazis. There are parts of the story I found necessary but disturbing. I don’t there is a better way to tell the story and make it accessible to the masses. I think this way of telling the story of a Jewish family during the second world war to younger generations because it’s told in a way that they would enjoy.
The World War Two story is intertwined with stories of Art Spiegelman obtaining the details of his mother from his elderly father. I found the interaction between him and his father just as interesting as the bits about the war. The starkness of the black and white images are perfect for this tale. I like to find colour in graphic novels (part of the reason I loved Fables: Legends in Exile so much) because too many of them use only black and white when colour would work just as well. But for Maus I think the use of colour would be a flaw as you wouldn’t get the same contrast as you do with simple black and white images.
I adored these books so much and would strongly suggest that you read them. I think this may even be the best graphic novel I’ve read, or it’s at least tied for first with Fables. The fact that this is really the story of Art Spiegelman’s father helps to make this the splendid story it is. This is one book, and I don’t usually do this, that is a must read. Take the first opportunity you can to read these two Maus graphic novels, you won’t regret it.
Even though I don’t usually give a must read to a book I’m sure some of you have a book you would say are must reads, what book would you say is a must read? Also I want to remind you that if you have read these books please send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) letting me know you’ve read these books and have posted a review of them and the link. I’ll place the link at the end of this post once I’ve received your email.