Monday, June 21, 2010

10 Cent Comic Books and Exchanging Letters

Maus by Art Spiegelman
Weight: 1.5 lbs
Method of Disposal: Shipped to my grandmother
I have always sent letters to my grandmother, but it was not until my own mom moved to Taiwan that we started a full-on exchange. I am loving it. We write to each other about different things, but we always mention the books we are reading at the time. The woman has read almost everything—whether you mention a classic piece of literature, a contemporary short story, or a new book on animal emotions. I recently wrote to her about Maus, which also led me to mention the brilliant Fun Home: A Family Tragicomedy by Alison Bechdel. Two popular graphic novels that are popular for good reasons. I found Maus, but I could not track down Fun Home. This project has led me to search for various books that I loved and, apparently, lost mysteriously. It has been frustrating because I want to write about them, but it is also amusing because it almost validates the whole thing. I had not even realized they were gone until I was ready to let them go.
I am going to send Maus to her by way of the USPS. I have been looking at it a lot lately—not wanting to let it go. Today, I received a card from her in response to mine about the graphic novels. She told me about how she learned to read with 10 cent comic books when she was a child. She said she became interested in classical novels after reading several of them in comic book form. Les Miserables was the first classic comic that she read, and she was mesmerized. This woman’s life is a huge collection of incredible stories, and she always has a new one to tell me that I have not heard before. I am enthralled by all of them.
Maus was an excellent book about the Holocaust, surviving the Holocaust, and being the child of a survivor of the Holocaust. It was beautiful and intense. I could not stop reading it for anything. It is the author’s honesty about his own actions, attitude, and irritation that really separate the book from others. It is a careful examination of multiple people and the diversity of methods people have to deal with their lives and hardships. The book I have is the complete Maus, books 1 and 2. I am curious to know what she will say about it, but I know she will be impressed. It is hard to imagine that anyone wouldn’t be. In case you haven’t picked up on it already, I recommend reading it.

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