26 Jan

What happens when one does yoga after a long time? The whole body revolts to stretch and fights by making itself sore at places one never realized existed. And so, self decided to take a break from work yesterday, with the revolting body as the excuse. How best to spend a day than watching TV and reading books? There was this book, “Maus” lying around the house for the past couple of months. Knowing it to be about WWII , I was avoiding it till yesterday.

To start with, the book is not just about WWII, though the war is chronicled by the author as dictated by his dad (a Jew). The book is about a father-son relationship, the guilt carried by the son on living in a fairer and nicer world, the parsimonious father who saves every single penny and preserves all junk having struggled through the holocaust. Brought tears at various phases.

There are lot of books about WWII. I think what characterizes this as different is that it is graphic. ( no , not in details, but in pictures) Having read “Winds of War”, this one is less affecting on learning about the ghettos and Auschwitz. But, still tugs at your heart as it is beyond one’s comprehension . The real heroes. The father dictates his story to the son in a very matter of fact way,with no sentiments except during one phase where he starts crying. That clearly shows human nature. After couple of decades, the emotions are far subdued.

In the second phase, when the book dwells more on the current, with the son staying in NY, the author has beautifully shown the father-son love-hate relationship, which one gets to see in many households. The son feels guilty that he is born after the war when the parents have already lost one during the war. There is a page where he says how he feels inferior to the photo of the dead son.

The one that made me cry was the father’s frugality. Having seen the war from the ghettos, fighting for food, starving for days, struggling to live and finally coming out of the inferno alive, morphs him into a human being who doesn’t want to let go of anything and who suspects almost everyone. I guess I saw a lot of fathers in him. My dad bargains for every rupee even now, whether it matters or not. Times have changed, we all have money , but having seen a lot in his 76 years, he just cannot let go of somethings. And, I am sure every family has a similar parent in some aspect or other.

Coming to the name, the book is called “Maus”, mouse in German as all the characters are portrayed as animals . Mouse for jews, Cats for Germans, Pigs for Poles, Dogs for Americans etc… This made me wonder what would suit Indians? ( Tigers, maybe ?, that looks too royal, don’t u think?)


Posted by on January 26, 2010 in Books, General


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13 responses to “Maus

  1. Saumya

    January 26, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Maus was an amazing book, and it stung me for days. WE are supposed to be better than animals, but I found we are far worse than them. I cannot imagine what all we get used to – the matter of fact way in which the author’s father said they remained hungry, and survived the cold was terrible.

    I agree with every parent having some characteristic like that. After my mom leaves, I have to scour the kitchen for used jam bottles, tin foils etc. My father is another story. Every generation has its own defining characteristic. Our generation places importance on career etc,maybe the next one will g more for finding their passion and so it goes.

  2. Manohar

    January 26, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Actually my opinion was that our generation doesn’t place that much importance in career as the previous generation did.

  3. Manohar

    January 26, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Shoba, your description of the book is lovely. Makes me want to read the book

  4. Saumya

    January 27, 2010 at 11:15 am

    BTW, Indians could be goats – herd mentality.

  5. shoba

    January 27, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Goat is a good one. I initially thought of Weasel..

    I think our generation does place importance in career. Previous generation was also worried about careers, but more for feeding the family whereas ours is more refined and we think about what we really want.Right now, the way I see it, the next generation has a lot of options which is good and bad.Well, time will tell…

    And, the book is a must read.

    • Manohar

      January 30, 2010 at 12:46 am

      Shoba, I agree that more often than not – our pursuit of jobs/career is based on what we want (which is along the lines of finding work that aligns with our passion).

      My original comment was disagreeing with the statement ” Our generation places importance on career etc,maybe the next one will g more for finding their passion”.

  6. Meera Manohar

    January 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Very interesting read Chocha. I will get a synopsis from Manu when he gets to read the book LOL But think you already know that and I didn’t have to explicitly say it πŸ˜›

    • shoba

      January 28, 2010 at 12:01 pm

      Knowing Mano, I am sure he will do due justice to the book in his narration. πŸ™‚

      • Manohar

        January 30, 2010 at 12:49 am

        Ordered from amazon πŸ™‚

  7. Hema

    January 29, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Good narration. I feel like I have read the book already. tension of having to buy the book and read it. :-))
    Coming to the characteristics of the generations, guess it is all defined by the environment. In war, survival rules over all other aspirations, right after war, the same instinct continues with saving and hoarding coming next( our grandparents and parents – when good jobs became a must for a decent social status). Then came the more smarter and planned way of living ( we saw the exodus of all the youngsters moving to the US com boom , Y2K rush and what not…) ( our generation )..The next generation have everything at their beck and call and so may have to really think of what they have to strive for ( it is tougher for them in a way to set their goals in life I think )…They are straight away on the third rung of Maslow’s pyramid..

  8. Suresh S

    January 29, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    What I liked about this book is the fact that there is not much dramatization. It is just the facts, which when read, can ascertain us on how blessed we are… The worst thing is that, such oppressive practices still exists in certain countries. I can only hope that economic downfall of such countries will make them to conform…

    • Sri

      February 2, 2010 at 1:02 pm

      History shows that Economic downfall is making it worse. Most of the remaining wealth goes to few and they oppress others. 😦


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