The Rows of Cherry Trees by Makoto Takahashi, a manga written in 1957 is a nice and heartfelt, slowly and beautifully paced poetic story of teenage girls and a budding love between them. It’s soft, girly and has some of the most gorgeous manga, comic, or graphic novel page layouts I’ve ever seen. The lines of the characters flow organically and naturally match the geometric shapes of the panels. The story seems ripped straight out of a sensitive teenage girl’s heart. It feels so sensitive, special and unique. I wish I could find more of Makoto Takahashi works, who has been referred as the originator of shoujo manga!
Barnes Colhard did not say he would not do it but he did not do it. He did it and then he did not do it, he did not ever think about it. He just thought some time he might do something.
His father Mr. Abram Colhard spoke about it to every one and very many of them spoke to Barnes Colhard about it and he always listened to them.
Then Barnes fell in love with a very nice girl and she would not marry him. He cried then, his father Mr. Abram Colhard comforted him and they took a trip and Barnes promised he would do what his father wanted him to be doing. He did not do the thing, he thought he would do another thing, he did not do the other thing, his father Mr. Colhard did not want him to do the other thing. He really did not do anything then. When he was a good deal older he married a very rich girl. He had thought perhaps he would not propose to her but his sister wrote to him that it would be a good thing. He married the rich girl and she thought he was the most wonderful man and one who knew everything. Barnes never spent more than the income of the fortune he and his wife had then, that is to say they did not spend more than the income and this was a surprise to very many who knew about him and about his marrying the girl who had such a large fortune. He had a happy life while he was living and after he was dead his wife and children remembered him.
He had a sister who also was successful enough in being one being living. His sister was one who came to be happier than most people come to be in living. She came to be a completely happy one. She was twice as old as her brother. She had been a very good daughter to her mother. She and her mother had always told very pretty stories to each other. Many old men loved to hear her tell these stories to her mother. Every one who ever knew her mother liked her mother. Many were sorry later that not every one liked the daughter. Many did like the daughter but not every one as every one had liked the mother. The daughter was charming inside in her, it did not show outside in her to every one, it certainly did to some. She did sometimes think her mother would be pleased with a story that did not please her mother, when her mother later was sicker the daughter knew that there were some stories she could tell her that would not please her mother. Her mother died and really mostly altogether the mother and the daughter had told each other stories very happily together.
The daughter then kept house for her father and took care of her brother. There were many relations who lived with them. The daughter did not like them to live with them and she did not like them to die with them. The daughter, Ada they had called her after her grand mother who had delightful ways of smelling flowers and eating dates and sugar, did not like it at all then as she did not like so much dying and she did not like any of the living she was doing then. Every now and then some old gentlemen told delightful stories to her. Mostly then there were not nice stories told by any one then in her living. She told her father Mr. Abram Colhard that she did not like it at all being one being living then. He never said anything. She was afraid then, she was one needing charming stories and happy telling of them and not having that thing she was always trembling. Then every one who could live with them were dead and there were then the father and the son a young man then and the daughter coming to be that one then. Her grand father had left some money to them each one of them. Ada said she was going to use it to go away from them. The father said nothing then, then he said something and she said nothing then, then they both said nothing and then it was that she went away from them. The father was quite tender then, she was his daughter then. He wrote her tender letters then, she wrote him tender letters then, she never went back to live with him. He wanted her to come and she wrote him tender letters then. He liked the tender letters she wrote to him. He wanted her to live with him. She answered him by writing tender letters to him and telling very nice stories indeed in them. He wrote nothing and then he wrote again and there was some waiting and then he wrote tender letters again and again.
She came to be happier than anybody else who was living then. It is easy to believe this thing. She was telling some one, who was loving every story that was charming. Some one who was living was almost always listening. Some one who was loving was almost always listening. That one who was loving was almost always listening. That one who was loving was telling about being one then listening. That one being loving was then telling stories having a beginning and a middle and an ending. That one was then one always completely listening. Ada was then one and all her living then one completely telling stories that were charming, completely listening to stories having a beginning and a middle and an ending. Trembling was all living, living was all loving, some one was then the other one. Certainly this one was loving this Ada then. And certainly Ada all her living then was happier in living than any one else who ever could, who was, who is, who ever will be living.
I’m writing a paper about Art Spiegelman’s Maus and I just need to mention how good it is and how I feel like everyone with the least bit of interest in either comix or the Holocaust should read this! I had (and I shamefully admit this) never heard about either Maus or Spiegelman so I didn’t know what I was getting into when I choose that subject. But I couldn’t be happier that I chose this! The metaphor of the animals (Jews are mice, Germans cats) is uncomplicated and direct without being simple and is designed to make you think about such stupid allegories. The harsh style combined with an even harsher story draws you in immediately and the breaks between the ‘now’ and ‘then’ are heartwarmingly personal and as funny as they are crude.
And now just a quick synopsis…
The book alternates the stories told by Spiegelman’s father Vladek Spiegelman about life in Poland before and during the Second World War with the contemporary life of Art, Vladek and their loved ones in the Rego Park neighborhood of New York City. The book recounts the struggle of Vladek Spiegelman living with his family in Radomsko, Częstochowa, Sosnowiec and Bielsko in the late 1930s and his tragic odyssey during the war which ultimately led him to Auschwitz as prisoner 175113.
Throughout the book, Art Spiegelman confronts his complex and often conflicted relationship with his father. For example, Vladek exhibits racial prejudice against blacks despite his own experiences of anti-Semitism. He is also presented as stingy and a person who makes life very difficult for those around him, including his first wife Anja (Art’s mother, who committed suicide) and his second wife Mala, themselves concentration camp survivors. The personality of the present day Vladek seems quite different from that of the man in the concentration camps, where he was resourceful and compassionate.
I suppose what fascinates me most is how real it is. Spiegelman draws his father’s story as it was and is. He choose not to make a hero out of him (as many other films and other forms of stories about the Holocaust do) and not to make the Germans The Bad Guy, Vladek’s story is shown in utmost honesty. For example, Vladek can be a real ass.
But (though Spiegelman didn’t intend this) you still empathize enormously with him.
Mostly it’s the absolute misery and people’s reactions to it that’s so gripping though.