Sunday, February 19, 2012

MAUS - Review

I didn't know they gave out Pulitzer Prizes for comic books.  Apparently, neither did the Pulitzer people.  In 1992, they awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Award to Art Spiegelman for MAUS, a graphic novel (AKA grown-ups comic book).
With poignancy, simplicity, and gravitas, Spiegelman depicts his father's journey through the Polish ghettos, Auschwitz, and immigration to the USA.  The first person narratives are brutal and painful, but the pain is equally present in Spiegelman's panning back and forth between history and the actual interview process with his father. 
Their father-son relationship is deeply strained, and this honest retelling brings knowing smiles and nods from all grown-up children who still struggle with their parents.  Spiegleman pulls the curtain a little further as he sketches his own depression, ambivalence toward his success, and writer's block.  He even includes a scene where he is getting help from his therapist. 
On one hand, MAUS is so extremely simple that I wonder why it should deserve such high honors.  On the other hand, its real value is its  simplicity and authenticity in dealing with such difficult subjects.
This is my first exposure to the graphic novel genre, and it seems that I've started at the top.  (Thanks for the loan, B.)  The Josh rating: JJJJJ.
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