Sunday the Litwits met to discuss Maus by Art Spiegelman and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Obviously, our theme was graphic novels – a theme I was beyond excited for despite already having read Maus. I cheated, though, and threw in the second highest vote getter so I’d have something new to read as well.
What shocked me most about September’s theme reading is how some members really seemed wary of the graphic format. I’ve come across so-called ‘serious’ readers who think comics can’t be literary, but resistance was strange coming from a group of less serious readers. And by less serious, I just mean not professional literary snobs.
I’m not sure if this attitude led to the small turnout that gathered in my living room on Sunday, but it makes me wonder. It also makes me very sad. Maus is a huge literary accomplishment and a worthwhile read no matter what the format.
But moving on to what the ladies actually thought, I think September was a smashing success. Maus was by far the favorite. We actually didn’t end up saying that much about the book because, as Melanie so astutely put it, Maus really speaks for itself. I did bring up one of the most affecting scenes in the novel for debate. When Art’s dad gets upset at him for picking up the African American hitchhiker and spews out a bunch of racist nastiness, I just had such a hard time reading that. That got us discussing how much prejudice is a part of human nature and if it’s something that we can ever truly part ways with.
Our discussion of Persepolis was a bit more historically and politically centered. The ladies felt that Persepolis was a bit harder to get into not knowing so much about the history of Iran and the Middle East. To me, that highlights a huge failure of the American school system. Our schools should really open up to history of the world at large, not just the West.
Our newest member, Shannon, rented the movie of Persepolis and highly recommended it. She did warn us that much of the story had been cut or altered, but that the film still really worked. She thought it was even more powerful than the book. We compared Spiegelman’s cat/mouse metaphor to Satrapi’s inclination to use blacked-out human forms.
As for my personal reading experience, I think I enjoyed Persepolis more than Maus. Mostly, it had that new shininess and covers a part of the world I’m currently rather obsessed with. Satrapi’s sarcasm and perspective were two things I could really personally relate to.
Next up in October is our 3 year anniversary! Victoria and I are in the planning stages of this month’s festivities and haven’t locked down plans yet. What we can promise is cake – there will be cake! And book prizes – big book prizes! Not one to be missed.