I have, of course, heard of Maus. I am a librarian, and I read book blogs, and goodness, it won a Pulitzer. But I'd never read it, for many, bad reasons. I don't like graphic novels, it's depressing, I am not into anthropmorphism, blah blah.
But I finally picked it up following a presentation on graphic novels by the writer of the Unshelved comic strip, and...Like I said, my reasons were bad. Especially when you consider how powerful a book this is. The animal thing--it begins to make sense, very quickly. The use of the animal masks is a powerful statement in certain panels. The frame story is--I thought it was annoying, at first, why should I care about the author's relationship with his father? But then I did, care, and then I got to see the impact the holocaust had on Vladek's entire life, on every single relationship he forms.
It's hard to form a connection with someone living during the holocaust. It's easy to sympathize, to empathize, but they're so far away. It was so long ago. When you give that person a present, a really very ordinary present, they're real. That's a person you might have run into at a store, or a person who's pipes you might've fixed, or the man that lives next door. Those terrible things happened to a real person, his real family and friends. And then you can connect. That person is now, and that person might have been you.