August 2012

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Jul. 19th, 2008

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

So I read Persepolis about a week ago and last night I saw the movie.  First impression:  if you're in it for the story hands down the book is 10 times better.  As with any book to movie, the book has more content.  They did what they could to keep the big bits, after all Marjane was the author of the book and a co-director.  I suppose it was what was more important for her, but what really hit me and what really brought Persepolis home for me wasn't included in the film.  A lot of the extra time with her uncle and all the lies and stoicism of the family was cut too short for me.  The fronts were really big in the book and were cut for the mos part in the movie.   Another thing is that the humanizing scenes in graphic novel.  Parts where we saw Marjane did stupid things or falter.  Scenes that pointed out her own and her family's hypocrisy, almost none of those made the movie.

If you're looking for the art though, the movie is the way to go.  Beautiful.  I wasn't expecting it from the graphic novel.  I mean the art wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything to write home about.  As far as comic style goes, I'd have rated the book fairly low, but the movie was amazing.  I found the art and the music just went so well together.  I was moved by quite a few of the scenes that didn't have the same impact without the sound and the movement.  There were a lot  more flowers in the movie and it made a tie in with the Grandma that way which was nice.  The graphic novel fell just short of that. 

Another thing that I like is that there were aspects that seemed to pronounce the whole French film thing.  I can't tell if it's a built in stereo type I have or if it's the kind of French movies I watch or if it's consistent in French films, but I'm used to certain love themes and certain portrayals from French movies that I really like.  Meh, I've always been a little too interested in all things French though.

Like always the graphic novel was much better than the book, but the movie was still a good take.  Just my thoughts though.

Jul. 8th, 2008

Review of Escape by Carolyn Jessop

So I just finished reading Escape  and I would definitely put it at a must read status for anyone who has ever wanted an insider's look at FLDS (Fundamental Latter Day Saints).  I'm not going to go through a huge break apart of the book right now, let me just throw out a few highlights (I'll warn you before I post spoilers so don't worry).  

Summary: 

Escape is an autobiography about Carolyn Jessop's life and escape from FLDS.  We follow her from a lover of her faith to a point where she is willing to and risk everything to escape FLDS with all of her children.    Since the book was written at all it isn't really a spoiler that she gets out, I won't say anymore about the how or why though. 

What I liked: 

-I really got an insider look at the FLDS.  Carolyn covers what she was taught as a child vs doctrine that Warren Jeffs decided to add on.  I could see the community going from something I would label as "fringe" or "not for me" to something that was "terrifying" and at least for me completely unbelievable to happen in the USA. 

-I found Carolyn's parallels's to other cults, methods of brainwashing and what not made it not only easy for me to identify with her but identify with many of her enemies. 

-To me, this book made it clear how terrorism is born and it solidified to me that terrorism is alive and well here as well as overseas.

-The book was really empowering and inspiring for me.  That someone in such a desperate situation who had been raised to think that her situation was un-changable and God's will could reject those notions and get out gives me hope.  I need to believe that more people can do that. 

-I felt like I got to know her, her children and some of her family.  

-Jessop kept the scenes of violence and abuse frank and shocking without getting so detailed that one felt like she was getting too in depth in details I'm not sure I could have read.  The story is horrifying without a play by play.

-THIS POINT IS A SPOILER:  Jessop makes a good point about what can make the FLDS more insidious than other cults.  While many other cults tell one not to trust the outside, people in the FLDS have no other experience.  They think what they are experiencing is normal or better than the outside.  They have no outside contacts to help them get out.  They have no skills that can help them once they've left the group.

- I think this quote by mdott922 over at http://mindlessmeandering.wordpress.com/2008/05/22/book-review-escape-by-carolyn-jessop/
sums up everything I'm trying to get at here:

" There are actually two stories told in this book.  The first is Carolyn Jessop’s own life story.  She was raised in a polygamous family, married at the age of 18 to someone 32 years her senior, who already had 3 wives, and went on to have 8 children in 15 years before fleeing polygamy.  The details of her life are sordid and, if I daresay unbelievable if the YFZ raid hadn’t brought the FLDS (Fundamental Latter Day Saints) to the forefront of American media.  In fact, her horribly abusive husband is currently in the news as the leader for the YFZ ranch.

As disturbing as the details of her life air, the other story Jessop tells is far worse.  With an insight that few outside the FLDS have (and no one inside the FLDS will share), she details the rise of Warren Jeffs and how he has turned a culture that was once fringe to something akin to the Taliban.  For those who look at places such as Afghanistan and say, “That could never happen here in the US,” you need to read this book.  She is even gives one of the most heartbreaking testimonies of the insidious power of cult behavior imaginable."

The only point I'd argue is that the polygamous aspect wasn't as focused on is mdott92 seemed to make it.  It was there and constant and undeniable.  But it was part of the life and culture.  What was really suffocating, shocking, and terrible was  the depiction of the FLDS of which polygamy was only one aspect (and for me not the one worth emphasis)." 

Downsides and Nitpicking: 

-It's a fast read but in many places it is a hard to read.  There were a few times where I cried or was on the verge of tears.  I know the USA isn't some amazing safe place immune to the terror, torment, and poor living conditions, but this was hands down this is the worse community I had ever read about inside the borders of a not third world country.  Even though there were constant references to world events and outside towns in the area it's hard to remember we're talking USA here.  Every now and then I'd remember all of it was happening in American and I'd have sort of a moment of shock.  I've read  other books that were pretty unsavory.  There's Jesus Land and They Cage the Animals at Night for a few, but I think in many aspects this book was more shocking for me.

-The book is an auto-biography and I think in some areas Jessop is too defensive about her membership (though more of this probably has to do with being an inexperienced author than her actual defensiveness).  When she talks about her childhood and introduction to her faith, I don't think that she needs to constantly explain why she believed as she did.  I mean I think most people believe what their parents tell them when they are kids.  Heck for a while I was convinced the moon was made out of cheese because my grandfather told me so.  The myth might be more common, but it isn't more ridiculous than some of the beliefs explained to us.  Add a community of believers to back up the thoughts and I feel that Jessop did such a good job showing why she'd believe such she didn't need to tell.  

Over all the book is well written though, it's just a slight blip for me.  

-SPOILER IN THIS DASH Jessop's older daughter, Betty went back to FLDS.  I know it's a true story and I know Jessop was probably more crushed than I was, but it still hurt by it.  Another aspect about Betty was that at her birth Jessop mentions that Betty was Merrill's favorite daughter and that would mean something she couldn't begin to imagine.  I saw how it made Betty loyal to FLDS, but I just couldn't see why.  Did Merrill spend a lot of extra time with Betty or was she getting some nice perks.  I don't know I really wanted Betty's story, but I know Carolyn couldn't give it to me and I doubt Betty is interesting in telling it.  I guess my interest is more a tribute to how involved the book made me  feel, but I did want more.

-I would have liked to know more about Carolyn's children's lives and the lives off her step children...but I understand that this isn't in Carolyn's ability or perhaps moral code (it's her children's choice to disclose or not disclose their experiences to the public) but I still wanted more. 

-Because Carolyn is the story teller and obviously she portrays what's going on as abusive, I sort of want a more rounded story.  I know the FDLS is abusive.  I don't doubt that the abuses she lists are true, I just want to hear how other's interpreted or saw her actions.  I mean in some ways she seems too good...but the other hand is that a lot of it was all for survival.  Maybe it had nothing to do with right or wrong and everything to do with surviving. 


I really liked this book and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in religious zealotry, domestic abuse issues, or cults.