books read in the last week

odd assortment:

fun home: a family tragicomic, by alison bechdel.

time magazine recently had a column on 5 great illustrated books, and i ordered this book as a result of that. the illustration style is absolutely wonderful — very much like “blankets“, by craig thompson (one of the best illustrated books i’ve read). the story is interesting also: it’s an autobiography, of a childhood in a small midwestern town, with a father who was a closeted homosexual. the author has her own coming out as a lesbian late in the book also. probably one of the most interesting passages is when she finds out her father is gay, just days after deciding she herself is gay, and how that timing makes her own story feel like a semi-comedic subplot to her father’s rather twisted story. i find all autobiographies worth reading, as they give such great insight into the human heart, the human condition, the human soul. bechdel is a good storyteller, and a great illustrator. there are a few graphic sexual pages, which limit my recommendation a bit; but otherwise, it’s an interesting read.

auschwitz, by pascal croci.

this is one of the five books i picked up in the bookstore at the u.s. holocaust memorial museum. it’s an oversized illustrated book, and i was captivated by the gorgeous black-and-white illustrations, as well as the discount price. really, it’s one of the most stunningly drawn illustrated books i’ve ever read. and there are compelling, powerful scenes. unfortunately, the gripping subject matter and the gorgeous illustrations couldn’t overcome the lack of an actual plot, or the awkward dissonance of the dialogue. and a minor issue that turned into a major annoyance for me was that the text (the comments, in talk bubbles) were set, rather than hand-lettered, and very poorly set at that. the poor guy who put this together took five years to do the illustrations, and the cheezy talk bubbles almost undoes it. i can only recommend this one for the beautiful graphics — nothing more. however, as holocause books go…

night, by elie wiesel.

holy cow. what a book. i’d heard of this book before (it’s assigned reading in so many high schools and colleges, and won a nobel peace prize). but i read it on the plane home from dc saturday (it’s a thin book — 115 pages, plus some worthwhile frontmatter and an afterword). it’s the first-person autobiographical narrative of a 15 year-old auschwitz survivor. most of the stuff isn’t new in 2006 — we’ve heard these kinds of stories now. but to read a first-person autobiography — especially from a teenager — well, it’s horrible and captivating and terrible and full of questions that just can’t be answered. this book must be read by every human being at some point in their life. really.

5 thoughts on “books read in the last week”

  1. You took the words right out of my mouth about “Night”. I couldn’t put it down until the end, and then I was left there thinking “how could this be?”. You are right… everyone should read this at some time in hs or her life.

  2. Wiesel is an amazing person – he has been writing, speaking and acting on his principles his entire life. I’ve had the chance to hear him speak 2x. Once at a synygogue outside Chicago – an amazing call for remembrance of our shared history, and a call to continue educating generations and speaking out for the least. He was also very upset by recent aggressive attempts by Christians to convert Jews when he felt that they (we) should be working together to address oppression of others. Then several years back he was in Nashville and he spoke in a different tone. I’ll never forget that he said something to the effect of, “I used to preach for tolerance and work for tolerance. But then I thought, ‘do I want to merely be tolerated, or to merely tolerate others?’ Now I preach and work for respect.”

  3. Marko,

    The words you gave to Night are wonderful. It is a hard book to read. Have you got a copy of Dawn by Wiesel yet? It picks up where Night leaves off … in some ways the two books compleate each other.

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