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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

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Review: Marzi

Marzi: A memoir - Marzena Sowa

In my quest to explore graphic novels, I came across this beauty. I loved the cover, a bitter child clutching her stuffed rabbit in full color while a group of soldiers cluster in the gray behind. I expected a book full of such contradiction, a book that would tug at my heart. Despite the implications of the cover, Marzi isn't that kind of book. It's tiny slivers in the life of one little girl who just happens to live in Poland during the fall of Soviet communism.

This is my first experience with a graphic novel illustrated by someone other than the author and I didn't like that. The illustrations and text felt disconnected at times. The pacing was off. Given the serial nature of the book, each vignette needed to occupy a full page or set of full pages and, as such, some were rushed while others lingered. I liked Marzi. Her perspective was astute and in line with how children thin. Some of her stories were very interesting, but this “novel” felt so much like a comic strip that I was overwhelmed by the presentation.

This is the kind of graphic novel that is probably best read in short segments. Although the illustrations are attractive and the stories interesting and multifaceted, its slice-of-life presentation bears more in common with a newspaper comic than with what I have come to recognize as a graphic novel.