MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus
***NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD WINNER***
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MetamausUser Review - striketwo - Overstock.com
Revealing treasure chest of one persons experiences as a survivor of survivors. We happened to go to the Spiegelman exhibit at the Centre Pompidou then read Metamaus. Its been a long strange trip for some people living through the 1960s while reliving the 1940s. Read full review
The photo on pp. 24 (of Art Spiegelman on a rock in Central Park) was taken by me, his girlfriend of the time, Isabella Fiske. He speaks of me here as the daughter of "the Mr. Natural of the commune I was involved with" but indeed this was not the only commune he and I were part of in those days. In early 1969 (April) Art and I were living in Bedford-Stuyvesant (or on the edge of it) near the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, on Bedford Ave. We were very happy there in spite of the death of his mother in May, 1968, and his breakdown in March, 1968.
I was well aware of Art's sense of himself as a special being, and of my own sense of myself as an "old lady" (of 18 years) to him; I had not found my own métier yet, though I thought maybe I would become a collagist. I also loved writing but sensed that Art was a genius and did not think I was, at that time. I'd been raised by my unusual Bohemian parents to think that I was a genius like the great William Blake, but I had a tendency to pooh pooh this as I saw someone who had real brilliance before me. He, being a commercial artist, was not as highly thought of by my parents, but they were fond of him all the same.
In 1969, I had been to see my family in Florida and Art had come to get me (I tried out tripping on an airplane for the first time on the way back). We were immensely in love, and his mind was, apparently, on ways to keep me with him. In that April we met Tom Brooker, a hanger-out at my father's and mother's storefront gallery, The Gallery Gwen, on E. 4th St., where they gave poetry readings and talks on philosophy and religion -- or my father and I did.
Tom had been given acid by my father and was envious of his ability to draw all sorts of people to him. He became obsessed with beginning a commune of his own, one in which women would be "controlled" by men and men would "become God..." (after he was through with that particular experience, to be sure). When Art and I saw him in the Sheep Meadow, there was a clash between yippies and police going on and a sense of fear and looming doom because R. Nixon had been elected the year before. We all felt the loose, lovely, free, costumey time of the Sixties was over and we were seeking places to hide. I didn't want to hide at the Brooker Commune, which (a railroad flat on 21st ST. by 8th Ave, as I recall) was not a pleasant place to be. It had Tom, a grey-haired though only 37 year old, tense-seeming man with an endless stash of good marijuana in a candle, and a younger man with dark hair named Barry. Barry's wife, Pat, had a baby daughter, Adina, and some money she had inherited from her family-- about $10,000 (they said) which was a good deal in those days. Tom urged us to stay with him and put us through various tests, including giving us $40 to go out and have fun riding a carriage around Central Park. Art and I were quite used to having fun and he had some benefactors who were not unlikely to help him out for one reason or another (Woody Gelman, for one, who had been a mentor to him since he was very young), and we used the money to go for the carriage ride-- only to discover on our return to 21st St. that we had made a great error--- we had not thought of the needs of all our brothers and sisters. We'd been selfish and were only interested in "two-ing." I don't remember all the ups and downs and ins and outs of the joining with the Brooker commune, though Bhob Stewart, another of our cartooning friends, says that I had hoped that Art would be given a co-editorship of Gothic Blimp Works, a new comix magazine that had just come out in the E. Village, to keep him from joining. I sensed something wrong and ugly about the Brooker menage, and I had seen something much better-- QuarryHill, my home in Vermont, where, despite imperfections, people were generally praised and honored for their uniqueness and artistic presence.
In any case,A. wanted to be a part of the thing, so we joined and we soon were separated. No "two-ing." I was