Some words are worth a thousand pictures.  Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis is filled with such words.  Words like revolutionaries and war, dreams and prophets.  But it’s a graphic novel, so we can’t forget the pictures.  They’re black-and-white, bleak and spare.  It’s a cautionary comicscape, seemingly meant to convey a sense of the darkness of oppression.  In light of this, I must admit to a bit of trepidation in the weeks leading up to our discussion, as the potential for polemic peril was high.

In the end, I decided to adopt an attitude characteristic of iconic social critic Alfred E. Neuman.  That is, “what, me worry..?”  It was, after all, the Crandall Public Library Monday Book Discussion Group who gathered on February 27, 2012 to discuss Persepolis.  Not to mention, I had Anne “Always Awesome” Nelson riding shotgun.

As expected, the conversation sparkled with eclecticity , and offered a nuanced exploration of what Ms. Nelson has accurately dubbed a “Persian pen-and-ink mini-masterpiece.”  I am quite sure that all in attendance would have to agree with reviewer Mark Haddon.  As he explains,  “…in one afternoon Persepolis will teach you more about Iran, about being an outsider, about being human, than you could learn from a thousand hours of television documentaries and newspaper articles. And you will remember it for a very long time.”

It goes without saying that I am looking forward to our March 19, 2012 meeting, during which we will examine two of Henry David Thoreau’s seminal essays, with the discussion moderated by noted Thoreau expert Richard Schneider.  ¡Ay, caramba!   From graphic novels to the literary canon.  It’s true, the Crandall Public Library Monday Evening Book Discussion Group is certainly no ordinary band of book lovers.  In any case, attendance for this special event is strictly limited to 24 participants.  As ever, materials can be obtained via any of the help desks in the library.

I hope that you’re enjoying the new blog format.  My apologies for not responding to comments, but plain and simple, I’ve been extremely busy.  From this point on, comments will be responded to in a timely fashion.

And finally, many thanks to Anne Nelson who coauthored this post!  That’s all folks!


Wikipedia: Marjane Satrapi

Random House: Author’s Page

YouTube: Satrapi on Comics

Book Slut Interviews Satrapi

Selected Satrapi at the Library

Chicken with Plums


Persepolis 2

The Sigh

5 Thought Provoking Graphic Novels

The following non-fiction graphic novels have been given the Anne “Always Awesome” Nelson stamp of approval, and lend credence to the notion that fact is often stranger than fiction.  No super heroes here.  Just ordinary people dealing with that extraordinary thing called life.

Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
“Maus is a book that cannot be put down, truly, even to sleep…”
–Umberto Eco

Alan’s War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope by Emmanuel Guibert
“This epic graphic memoir spans oceans and generations, with a narrative as engrossing as the artistry that illustrates it.”
–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden
“[A] touching and often funny story… The simplicity of the drawing is offset by bright, delicate watercolors that belie our heroine’s unresolved struggle with history and heritage.”
–Publishers Weekly

Good Eggs: A Memoir by Phoebe Potts
“Nearly impossible to put down . . . . Fantastic. . . . Overwhelmingly likeable on the page, Potts tells the story of her and her husband’s frustrated efforts to have a child with equal parts comedy and pure narrative skill.”
–Publishers Weekly

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle
“Pyongyang will appeal to multiple audiences: current events buffs, Persepolis fans and those who just love a good yarn.”
–Publishers Weekly

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