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In the Shadow of No Towers Hardcover – 2 Sep 2004
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On 11th September 2001, Art Spiegelman raced to the World Trade Center, not knowing if his daughter Nadja was alive or dead. Once she was found safe in her school at the foot of the burning towers he returned home, to meditate on the trauma, and to work on a comic strip. Subversive, iconic, and burningly articulate, In the Shadow of No Towers is New Yorker Art Spiegelman's extraordinary account of 'the hijacking on 9.11 and the subsequent hijacking of those events' by America.
About the Author
Art Spiegelman was born in Stockholm and immigrated to the United States with his parents in his early childhood. He studied cartooning in high school and started drawing professionally at age 16, despite his parents wanting him to become a dentist.
In 1998 he won the Pulitzer Prize and a Guggenheim fellowship for his acclaimed Maus books (published by Penguin in 2003 as The Complete Maus). He was the co-founder of Raw, the acclaimed magazine of avant-garde comics and graphics, and editor of Little Lit. His drawings and prints have been exhibited in museums and galleries here and abroad. During the 1990s and until 2002, Spiegelman worked as a contributing editor and illustrator for the New Yorker. He lives in New York City.
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I read Art Spiegleman's Maus a few months ago and it was one of the most poignant books I had every read. I feel so lucky to have been able to get In the Shadow of No Towers which is every bit as important in capturing the hysteria, fear, and struggle to make meaning of 9/11. Thank you!
Mr. Spiegelman is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Maus," where he used the medium of comic strips to portray the Holocaust, his parents' experience as survivors of Auschwitz, and his own experience as a child of Holocaust victims. Ironically, his parents taught him at an early age to "always keep my bags packed." He writes in the book's Introduction, an extraordinary essay, "I tend to be easily unhinged. Minor mishaps - a clogged drain, running late for an appointment - send me into a sky-is-falling tizzy. It's a trait that leaves one ill-equipped for coping when the sky actually falls." And the sky literally fell on the author and his family that day. They lived in the towers' shadow, in TriBeca, and their daughter was in school that morning - a school located at Ground Zero - a tizzy producing experience if there ever was one!!
This unusual hybrid book, 42 oversized pages printed on heavy card stock, is a combination of comic book illustrations and prose. It is an extremely personal memoir of the attacks on the WTC, which Spiegelman and his family witnessed at close range. It is a raving rant about the after effects of the violence and its repercussions throughout the world at large, and the smaller interior world of the author's psyche. It is the intimate story of one family trying to cope. It is an editorial about the political exploitation of this terrible event. The book is designed to be read vertically, just like the old comic strip broadsheets that appeared in newspapers. Each strip is a story, ten of them, followed by a comic supplement.
An image, seemingly burned into Spiegelman's eyelids, is the last sight he had of the North Tower just before it fell. He saw the building's skeleton, its very bones, lit up and glowing right before it vaporized. This image reoccurs throughout the book.
The country, the world, has seemingly become inured to the unthinkable, just three years later. The further away one lives from Ground Zero, the more removed the event. Art Spiegelman has given us a strange gift with his book - an honest memory of a devastating tragedy - a memory that depicts humor as well as horror, confusion, terror and heartbreak. All of us must move on, move forward. Oddly enough, Spiegelman's book helps us to do so by chronicling 09/11/01 and its aftermath, allowing us to let its vividness go. "Still time keeps flying and even the New normal gets old." "...though three years later I am still ready to lose it all at the mere drop of a hat or a dirty bomb. I still believe the world is ending, but I concede that it seems to be ending more slowly than I once thought...so I figured I'd write this book."
A beautiful book worth reading, worth keeping.
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