09 January 2008

Review:: Persepolis I and II (graphic novels)

"We can only feel sorry for ourselves when our misfortunes are still supportable. Once this limit is crossed, the only way to bear the unbearable is to laugh at it."
--Marjane Satrapi

Some teens prefer low-level reading material, and others just devour whatever you give them, no matter how complex it is. I figure, if they can handle adult books, then more power to them.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is an autographical graphic novel series-- mostly for adults because it deals with war, political ideologies, and loss of loved ones. However, it does portray certain topics that teens can relate to.
Identity crises!
Peer pressure!
Romance and the complete lack of it!

The first part of the series examines Satrapi's curious innocence during her childhood in Iran, and goes on to expose the complexity of her teenage and adult years both in Austria and Iran. This would be a great pick for a book club because it is thoroughly engaging both visually and emotionally. Its introspective depth into cultural perspectives and politics-- and how they affect the lives of everyone-- make for potentially enlightening discussions.

There are streaks of feminism throughout that demonstrate how Satrapi has always thought for herself, even when she made mistakes. I find this is the type of book that can inspire anyone to really look at how one reacts to one's surroundings.

8.9 of 9.
Glorious! You will fall in love with many of the characters' resilience and honesty. There were times that I really related to Marjane, and others where it was hard to respect her. To me, candid memoirs that include the good and the horrendous are the only ones that treat the reader with respect.
It fluctuates. At times it is so full that there is no room for distraction, and sometimes I felt the need to put the book down to reclaim my life.
Late teens and up. Basically, anyone mature enough to deal with violence, death, drugs, and what many consider brainwashing. Cynics welcome too.
Like it? Try this!::
Watch the movie. It's so terribly beautiful that I cried and laughed, often at the same time. Not only does it weave a heartbreaking and sometimes hilarious story, it creates visual effects with light and shadow that I've never seen in a movie before. It just got a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Film and has won quite a few awards already, including the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It is in French, yes. You'll find yourself completely enthralled, even if you are a subtitle vegetarian. Watch the French fantastic teaser trailer here.
Also, listen to a band like DeVotchka or Beirut while reading this series. The melding of Eastern and Western musical influences really adds to the multicultural flavor.
Further Notes::
I can't help but be grateful that Satrapi created this series to provide us with a little perspective. It is sometimes too easy to be disillusioned with life... with failures... with desires... Her story is a reminder that the way we perceive life dictates how we choose to live it.