Of Maus and Men

I’m re-developing a taste for reading. Seriously, I can not count how much I’ve read this year already. I’d do unspeakable things just to get more knowledge in my head, more books on my shelf and more escapism in my day. It’s like being taken to another world. Be it fictional, or just someone else’s life. 

Sometimes that world’s fucked up though.

Sometimes you can’t stop reading because you are dying to know what will happen in the end, but you know that one way or another, the road to that ending isn’t going to be pleasant. As it is in life, I guess.

If you immerse yourself in a world like that, it’s hard to come back out. 

And yes, I did experience that last night.

On a recent trip to London, I managed to finally snag a copy of Maus. I’d been lusting after one for years, ever since I read about it in Total Film (and when has Total Film ever wronged me? NEVAR.) 

Maus, for those of you who don’t know, is Art Spiegelman’s epic graphic novel, depicting the story of his family (but mostly his parents) during World War II. The first thing you notice about it is that Spiegelman has drawn his characters as animals. The Jewish (including Spiegelman’s father and mother) are drawn as mice, the Germans as cats and the Polish as pigs.

The second thing is how the story pans out. It flashes between the present, where a grown up Art is interviewing his increasingly ailing father about his experiences, and the past, where father Vladek is trying to survive the horrors of the war.

I’d promised myself to read just one chapter per day. But I could not expect being sucked in to the story like that. I was halfway through the book last night, and finished it in one sitting.

I’d heard so many people telling me that there’s a very real possibility that this book will make you cry. So when I finished it, I waited for the tears. I thought I’d come off scot-free.

But I don’t know if it was ten minutes or ten seconds after I put the book down. All I knew is that I completely and utterly fell apart.

And when I say fell apart, I mean FELL THE FUCK APART. Like, sitting in a corner, with a comfort blanket, crying out for my mum. I ran downstairs and sat down on my mother’s bed, where she held me until it all went away. 

As I pulled at my hair (coping method of mine) and sobbed and kicked and silently screamed, I felt like a fucking idiot. Suddenly, all my problems seemed so small. Vladek had suffered so much at the hands of utter fucking bastard nutters. And here I was….

I felt tiny.

In hindsight, it was a pretty strong reaction to the book.

But it does hit you in that way. And it hits hard.

I guess the best books have the power to move you to tears or to spasms of laughter.

I could think of more to write, but I feel like my words won’t do things justice. Let’s just end on me saying that it showed me that I need to work out a lot of stuff in my life. Because those tears couldn’t have come from a book alone.

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2 Comments

  1. I have this on my wall above my desk at work. For you x http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_mvx0mKx51y0/S6kHScRO19I/AAAAAAAAPSk/WkWybQmlymQ/s400/Franz-Kafka_Design-Crush.jpg

    Also, the hair-pulling works wonders, no?
    LP x

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