Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began

Maus, Vol. 2: And Here My Troubles Began - Art Spiegelman

Most anything I could say about this has already been said, and more eloquently than I could manage.

 

It's powerful stuff, not just Vladek's story itself, but the poignant depiction of the relationship between Art and Vladek. Art bares his soul complete with his survivor guilt, embarassment over his father's behaviour as an old man, over his mother, and yet manages to show that troubled as it was, he and his father loved each other as best they could manage.

 

The art is wonderful, there's so much going on - small touches that you don't even notice until later. One that struck me hard was the crossroads morphing into the terrifying shape of a looming swastika, as Vladek and Anja stand trying to decide if they should go home from the first ghetto or look for somewhere else to stay. As if to say, no matter what they choose, no good is to come of it.

 

Also ,the deconstruction of "race" through animals is quite striking, and works well for me. The idiocy of seeing everyone from any race (or country, or group) as alike becomes clear. That it's thrown into sharp relief by the elderly Vladek's reaction to the kids picking up a black hitchhiker, as a lesson that he failed to learn even though he'd been on the sharp end of it is raw, but honest.

 

And yes, this one gets 5 stars, because it's ever so slightly better than the first half (but only barely - if this were a 10 star scale, they'd be at 9 and 10). That wartime photo of Vladek near the end, looking me right in the eye, young and strong and proud, really got to me somehow.