Friday, January 14, 2011

Review: Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi

I read the first Persepolis in an effort to overcome my dislike of graphic novels. And although my opinion of the genre didn't change, I decided to go ahead and read the second of these memoirs (mostly because I already had it waiting for me in the house). It also didn't change my opinion of graphic memoirs. I think I'm just not destined to like them much. It's not a snobbery thing. I appreciate how difficult it is to be succinct, draw aesthetically pleasing pictures, and manage to marry the two in such a way that they tell a complex and nuanced story. I just don't enjoy the result. A personal failing perhaps, but there you have it.

Persepolis 2 tells Satrapi's story from her early teens when she left a war torn Iran for Austria, through her unsettled and rootless life in Vienna as she faced culture shock, experienced racism, and rebelled against so much, to her eventual return to Iran and her family, her education once home, her marriage, and her eventual decision to leave Iran forever. As in the first book, the heavy, dark illustrations underline the bleakness of Satrapi's experiences. She endured much at an age long before anyone should be asked to shoulder such responsibility and the unsophisticated, simple artwork conveys that.

Her tale is a wrenching one but for me, the drawings detract from the sympathy I should have been feeling. And I couldn't shake the feeling that there was much left out, especially anything positive, at least in part because of the constraints of graphic novels. Overall, everything about the story felt detached to me. I know that both Persepolis and Persepolis 2 have earned much acclaim but they just didn't move me. Whether I would have appreciated the story told in a more traditional novel format I can't say, but I definitely think that graphic novels are not for me.

1 comment:

  1. I don't generally like graphic novels either but I loved both of the Persepolis books. Have you seen the film? It's done in the same style as the drawings but has a lot more emotional impact.


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