Posts in category 'books'

  • On Douglas Adams

    Over the years, I’ve read a reasonably wide range of stuff, running the gamut from comedy and drama to horror and science fiction, both classic and contemporary. But for some reason, whenever I get tired of finding new things to read, or just need to dig into something familiar and light hearted (yet still weighty and thoughtful, if I wish), I return to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. There’s something about Mr. Adams’ brilliant, canted, quirky take on humanity that I just can’t get enough of. Heck, the very title of this blog is an homage to his wonderful work.

    Well, today, I came across a previously unpublished interview with the man (appeared on Slashdot, originally) from back in 1978, before HHGTG really took off, and I am once again reminded of why I enjoy his work so much, and why his loss was such a sad event. One of my favorite quotes is this:

    If The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy makes money, I shall enjoy that. But what I'll enjoy most is having proved that you don't have to underestimate people. I don't like the notion that you set yourself up as saying "This is what people like, therefore this is what we'll do." That's patronizing.

    So for any fans of Adams’ work, or HHGTG, check it out. It’s an interesting read about a man that is sorely missed (a phrase I rarely turn in reference to celebrities).

  • Review: The Complete Maus

    Review of The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman (9780679406419)★★★★★
    Cover for The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

    The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in “drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust” (The New York Times).

    Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek’s harrowing story of survival is woven into the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century’s grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us.

    So, as I mentioned in my entry on the graphic novel Watchmen, I chose Maus (and Maus 2) as the next step in my foray into the graphic novel medium. Maus is, first and foremost, the tale of a holocaust survivor. Written by Art Spiegelman, the core narrative surrounds his father, Vladek, and his life in Poland before, during, and shortly after the holocaust. In an unusual twist, the story is told from a sort of metabiographical perspective, in that the reader is presented with a depiction, not only of Vladek’s tale, but also of the author’s experiences as he goes through the process of interviewing his father and writing the book. The result is that we not only learn of Vladek’s experiences surviving the unthinkable, but also the effect these events have on his present day life and the individuals connected to him.

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