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Comic-book artist Spiegelman responds to 9/11.Art Spiegelman’s first comics work since the highly acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize-winning Holocaust narrative, MAUS, will inevitably elicit comparisons with that mighty work. Furthermore, the fact that it’s only 42 pages long, printed horizontally on thick cardboard pages with the main narrative only taking up 20 of them (the rest being a lengthy history of American newspaper cartoons and then examples of said strips featuring patriotic material) may further erode confidence. Best to avoid such impulses, really, as they will foster a disappointment that this book certainly doesn’t deserve.
Taken on its own, In The Shadow Of No Towers is an inventive, personal and undoubtedly powerful take on 9/11, built on two levels. Firstly, a fear-packed personal recollection of the day when Spiegelman and his wife frantically searched for their young daughter, schooled mere blocks from the Twin Towers, and secondly, a far more bitter and exasperated invective against the Bush administration, who, in Spiegelman’s eyes, ruthlessly and shamefully hijacked 9/11 for all manner of political wrong-doing.
Certainly, there are instances where Spiegelman’s bitterness forces him into unfocussed, in-vogue Bush-bashing where he fails to address the more widespread personal suffering. Mostly, though, he has clearly maintained his enthralling ability to mix irony, rage, resignation and deep tragedy within the comic-book format.
In The Shadow Of No Towers by Art Spiegelman, out now published by Viking.
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