Tim Lieder (marlowe1) wrote,
Tim Lieder

2011 Books # 111 - Fuck Communism

111. Marzi by Marzena Sowa & Sylvain Savoia - This is one of those books with a background story that almost overwhelms the narrative. That's not a deal breaker. Plenty of writers distract from their work with their lives. Norman Mailer and William S. Burroughs were shooting their wives. J.K. Rowling will always be the "woman on the dole makes good" (I just got a book with a plot that is cliche mashup of steampunk/paranormal romance/zombies with the major selling point being that the author was about to go on food stamps before she wrote the thing - it's like the publicist is begging you to like the book lest she goes back on food stamps) whereas Hemingway raged through Europe and Africa punching out bulls and shooting lions.

This one has Marzena going to school in Krakow and meeting her soul mate - an established comic book artist with an impressive credit - which was fortunate since she had a story to tell about growing up in Communist Poland and how it collapsed when she was 10.

That's not to say that Marzi is just one of those women that fucked her way into comic book writing, but her story would not have been told without the collaborator. I'm still not sure if it's creepy or sweet that Savoia is depicting his girlfriend in her childhood with plenty of requisite stories about how she didn't want people to know that she was pooping or her love of her father (to the point of idolization) and her tensions with her mother who is always angry and/or upset. This guy probably has met these people or knows of these people (if they are alive) so he's just as intrusive as Marzena in telling her story.

Of course, while that adds to the story, it is not the story. The story is about a young girl growing up in Poland. And childhood stories are like dreams and awesome drug trips - the person experiencing them and telling them is always going to be more fascinating. It's cute that she pushed all the elevator buttons and being afraid that people knew that she pooped, it's not exciting narrative. Most of these stories are short and not terribly interesting. The art is good enough to carry one over the boring stories.

Still the book does ultimately pay off when Chernobyl and strikes provide a 1-2 punch to the Communist government. The fact that her father is part of a major strike actually adds some decent tension and the ending is appropriate.
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