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Letting It Go Hardcover – March 19, 2013
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“[Letting It Go is] thoughtful and unflinching but also frequently funny, and drawn with considerable grace.” ―National Post
“Miriam Katin's Letting It Go is my kind of graphic memoir: loose, impressionistic, a portrait of the artist's inner life.” ―Los Angeles Times
“Letting It Go is a moving, funny look inside the artist's thought processes as she reckons with her past and decides whether she's going to live out her golden years in a spirit of resentment or forgiveness.” ―AV Club
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Top Customer Reviews
I haven't read many graphic novels; Katin's might be the fifth or sixth. I can't really comment on the art except to say it is drawn mostly in pencil - both gray and colored - and is very appealing to the eye. The story, though, is what really sets "Letting It Go" off from many works of Holocaust literature.
Miriam Katin's book is about the journey she made - both in body and in spirit - to the city of Berlin, first in 2005 and another trip a year or so later. She had grown up as a hater of Germany and all things German. (And who would blame her?) When she was in her late 60's, her son, Ilan, told her and her husband that he had decided to settle in Berlin and was trying to adopt EU citizenship. Would she claim him as the child of a Hungarian citizen so he could claim EU status. (Even though Katin had US citizenship, she was still considered Hungarian by her place-of-birth. The exact details of this are a bit sketchy in the book.) Faced with examining her past by Ilan's request and talking it over with her mother - the woman who had saved her life during the war - she decided to go through the onerous process of the paperwork. Next up was a trip to Berlin with her husband to visit her son and his girlfriend.
The balance of the book/art is about her visits to Berlin.Read more ›
But they tend to be brief and you and read again and again and wonder about the things that still don't make sense.
I was drawn to the illustrations in the public library and then was able to enjoy the story by rereading and studying and rereading.
Katin's style reminds me much of Harvey Pekar and his American Splendor series. Katin's obvious plot points are mysterious and funny: Likes Turks and wild birds; hates Germans and bugs but likes all those German bug killers that made survival hard on the Jews but easy to live in a vermin-infested American city..
The subtle plot points are hilarious. The cartoon version of her husband is always mystified by his wife, often suggesting she get a grip, and is even more mystified how she could be so easily suckered back to Berlin on the promise of a bit of celebrity.
It must be emotionally troubling to tell a story this honestly and it must be trippy to draw oneself in the third person: To be outside your body, so to speak. But it's a good way to disappear all those wrinkles.
As soon as possible, I will acquire Katin's earlier narrative, 'We are on our own.' in the meantime, I hope 'Letting it go' gains the traction it deserves and will remains available for many years.
Good work, good luck and thanks for this glorious read.
That is Miriam Katin's reaction to hearing the news that her son was about to settle permanently in Berlin, Germany. Germany --- no matter how hard she tries, Katin can't overcome the intense feelings the very word evokes in her. Her son asks her to complete a form, which will convey citizenship in the EU upon him based on the fact that his mother was born in Hungary. But after he sees what it is doing to her --- how the very presence of the form is hurting her --- he pulls it away. "I threw it into the trash," he notes. "I can't ask this. I see what it's doing to you." It's one of the multitude of beautiful moments throughout Letting It Go, a graphic memoir so tinged with humor and sorrow that it can break the heart and then heal it within the space of just a few panels.
"The building we live in is breathing sorrow," Katin writes at one point. As her comic character gazes on a collection of furniture, art, and more thrown on the street outside her apartment building, she remarks, "Somebody else died." The panel caption simply states: "Here is the detritus of lives long past usefulness."
That is only scratching the surface in terms of the layers of privacy and intimacy peeled back by Katin as she relates the story of visiting Berlin in Letting It Go. Katin is bold, fearless, and never one to shy away from cold, hard truth, particularly when it can reveal the elements of human experience. Her relentless honestly makes Letting It Go compelling and nearly impossible to put down. Just when you think you know how Katin is going to relate to her surroundings --- and the history that brought her to them --- she surprises you, and you laugh. Or wince.
Katin's artwork is incredible as well, depicting color and movement and style with effortless grace. Each page is a wonderful joy to behold.
-- John Hogan
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was recommended to me by a daily newsletter I get called "Jewniverse." This was my first graphic novel, but it didn't do much for me. Read morePublished on January 8, 2014 by Swinstondc
I welcome Ms. Katin's honesty in sharing her personal story. The drawings were superior. Will be following her career and looking forward to see her other works.Published on June 11, 2013 by Sojourner
Her talk about the book and its subject inspired me to purchase the book. However, her book covered the same material as her talk which was infused with more humor and pathos than... Read morePublished on April 22, 2013 by Robyn Delfin