Monday, May 02, 2005

Growing Up Isn't Easy

I had imagined over my reading binge weekend that I would just start reading Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, not actually finish it, but finish it I did. This makes my second graphic novel. I'm on a role. Persepolis is not so much a graphic novel as it is a graphic memoir. It is the compelling story of Satrapi's childhood in Iran. It starts in 1980 when she was ten and tells of the lead up and aftermath to the revolution. The perspective is from that of a child with all of its attendant misunderstandings of the adult world and consequent enlightenment. In school when teachers asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, Satrapi replied that she wanted to be a prophet. Of course she got scolded and teased and changed her aspirations from prophet to revolutionary, modeling herself after Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Worried that her friends' families were more revolutionary than hers, she'd pump her family for information about relatives who had spent time in jail for their politics and then go to school and brag about it. Eventually her friends and their families began leaving the country and by the time the government closed the universities Satrapi was worried that her chances of being the next Marie Curie had been ruined. When the Iran-Iraq war broke out and a bomb landed on her neighbor's house, Satrapi's parents sent her, at the age of 14, to "visit" family in Vienna and attend school there for a while. Her parents tried to convince her that they would be along shortly, but she understood as she waved goodbye to them at the airport that they would never live together as a family again. While I thought the book quite good I wasn't hugely impressed with it. I've heard so much about it I somehow expected more. Still, I am glad I read it and would even recommend it for anyone who wants to give graphic stories a try. I will read the sequel but not for a month or two most likely.