We're having an open house right now, and since I don't have a car in order to get anywhere not the house (and it's cold and there's snow everywhere so walking 2+ miles doesn't sound like super fun) I figured I'll hide upstairs and work on a review! Now let's see, next up to review is...Maus II. Great. Something light-hearted.
I'm having, if possible, even more trouble coming up with what to say about Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began than I had with Maus I, and not only because it's been a few months since I read it.
Maus I takes place in occupied Poland, with Vladek and his family having to deal with all of the pain and terror that comes with being Jewish in a place that really does not like Jews. Maus II takes place after Vladek and his wife Anja have been taken Auschwitz. So things go from bad to oh-my-god-this-is-the-worst-please-let-me-go-back-to-how-it-was-before. The story is depressing, which you should expect because Holocaust. You know things are going to be OK for Vladek and Anja (for awhile) because the story is Vladek telling his son Art about his time at the camp, so obviously he makes it out. Just because there's a silver lining, doesn't make things any less heartbreaking. Just because Vladek and Anja make it out of the camp, doesn't mean lots of other mice do.
There's another thing that makes the story more complex, more interesting: Vladek isn't some saint. Most of the story takes place during his time at the camp or his time marching, but a good chunk of the story is Art's interviews with his father in the present day and his farther seems like a lot to deal with. He's not bad, he's not evil. He's an old man who was constantly insulting Art's step-mother until she gave up and left him and now he's alone and guilts Art and Art's wife into spending time with him. You feel for Vladek while at the same time you can feel Art's frustration. He loves his father, that isn't in doubt, but family is never that simple.
Title quote from page 136
Spiegelman, Art. Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began. Pantheon Books, 1986.