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John Howard Griffin, who was born in Texas in 1920, was a remarkable character. During World War Two he joined the French underground, helping smuggle Jewish children out of Germany to England.
‘In the middle of the journey of our life / I found myself in a dark wood, / for I had lost the right path.’
Graphic novels often have a way of getting across human pain and loneliness that can’t be replicated in quite the same way without visual accompaniment.
Maus is a classic graphic novel based on the author’s experience of interviewing his father Vladek about his experiences during World War II, when he and Art Spiegelman’s mother Anya, who subsequently committed suicide, were interned in a concentration camp.
It’s telling that the author describes ‘Maybe the Moon,‘ as being ‘partly autobiographical,’ despite the narrator being a three-foot-tall thirtysomething straight woman and not a middle-aged gay man.
Alexander Masters’ book is a backwards biography of a homeless addict, Stuart Shorter, who lived on the streets of Cambridge. Tellingly, the backwards element was Stuart’s idea.
Professor Randy Pausch of Carnegie Mellon has managed to describe in his own words, with the help of Jeffrey Zaslow; what true empathy, compassion, kindness and gratefulness mean in times of immense adversity.
Philip Larkin once wrote, ‘Lonely in Ireland, since it was not home, strangeness made sense.’ When I read this book, I was travelling on business, something I was used to doing. I was also dealing with grief.