Art Spiegelman responds to the MAUS banning controversy

Over at New York Magazine, Abraham Riesman has a delightful interview with Art Spiegelman, the acclaimed writer/artist of Maus, which has recently been the focus of some book-banning ire. In addition to being a fascinating microcosmic profile of the artist himself — Riesman has a knack for painting wonderful prose portraits of his subjects, as evidenced in his recent book on Stan Lee — it's particularly interesting seeing how the 73-year-old has responded to this new burst of internet-fueled publicity:

"I must have answered at least 50 emails in the past week, but not many more, because it's like 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice': You answer one and three more come in," he says. "My life went into a stasis. I've become cannon fodder in a culture war."

Perhaps more remarkable is Spiegelman's interpretation of the book ban, which pushes back against the idea that it was fueled by rising anti-Semitism. I'll save the details for the link, but Spiegelman actually read through all of the school board complaints about the book, and noticed how most of them centered on one particular part of the book: the scene where he yells at his father for burning his mother's diaries after her suicide.

As Spiegelman sees it, the real reason for the board's decision may be that the narrative of Maus offers no catharsis, let alone comfort, to readers. There are no saviors. No one is redeemed. The characters — Spiegelman's family — remain the imperfect people they were to begin with. "It's a very not-Christian book," Spiegelman says. "Vladek didn't become better as a result of his suffering. He just got to suffer. They want to teach the Holocaust. They just want a friendlier Holocaust to teach."

But the actual best part of the profile is, without a doubt, Art Spiegelman losing his glasses.

Art Spiegelman Loses His Glasses [Abraham Riesman / Vulture]

Image: Patrick janicek / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)