While mindlessly walking amongst the chaos that is El Corral during the first week of classes, scrambling to find my textbooks like everyone else, I came across a somewhat peculiar sight: an English teacher had assigned a graphic novel as required reading for a class, but not only that, one that I own and love.

So when I got home that night, I made it my mission to fish out my copy from the bookshelf which, if I do say so myself, contains a rather obscene amount of comic books and graphic novels. To no avail, it was missing. This started my long, sad journey to find it, which included searching all over the house, for what amounted to a painstaking three hours, and ended with me contacting all my friends who might possibly have borrowed it.

Finally, and somewhat ironically, it was returned to me at a party, which is the last place I could have imagined it being returned to me. Thus, the next day I set out to read it. So I put on the kettle for some tea, put my feet up, and set out to devour Maus, by Art Spieglman, once again.

As a word of warning for all those reading this, Maus is not you’re typical comic book of yesteryear. Through the utilization of small pictures arranged in panels, full of narration and word bubbles, Spiegelman tells the very personal story of his father, a Holocaust survivor, and his plight to escape the clutches of Hitler’s “Final Solution”- the virtual genocide of the Jewish people in Europe during World War II.

There is a vast array of novels or films out there that take a deep look at the terrible tragedy that was the fate of millions of Jews in the 1940’s, but few can evoke as many different emotions as Maus, for the most part due to it’s most unique, and haunting, attribute: In all of the illustrations, Jews are depicted as mice, while Nazis are pictured as cats.

The journey of Art Spiegelman’s father, from the Nazi invasion of Poland, and eventually to internment in Auschwitz, is, without a doubt, epic. At once moving and heart breaking, but always handled with as much care as any such story should warrant. Moreover, Spiegelman offers an insight into how the Holocaust forever changed all those who survived.

It is often the case that I judge a book to be really good when I am so moved by it that I feel different upon completion. Maus by far meets that criterion. Even now, upon countless re-reads, I still get chills, or feel complete revulsion, or become immensely bitter that such horrors could have actually occurred, only some sixty years ago.

So if you are looking for an interesting read, in effort to take a break from studying for that Calculus or Psych midterm coming up soon, you should pick up a copy of Maus. It is no “light” read, at least in content, but I assure you that you will walk away with a new insight on what it means to not just live, but survive- in the face of complete tragedy. And hey, it won a Pulitzer Prize, so it can’t be all bad, right?

Jon Monteith is a history senior and a guest contributor to the Mustang Daily.

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