Claudia Dreifus, a regular contributor to The New York Times, is the author of numerous books, including two collection of her interviews for The Times with scientists, Scientific Conversations (2002), and with people in public life, Interview (1999). (January 2018)
Claudia Dreifus: Did creating Maus help you come to terms with the difficulties of growing up as the child of Holocaust survivors?
Art Spiegelman: When Maus was first published, in 1986, my answer was, “I’ve had therapy, and I’ve made comics. The comics are cheaper.” That said, I kept ducking in and out of depression. At one point, my therapist told me, “But you weren’t in Auschwitz. You were in Rego Park.” With that, he was saying, “deal with your own reality, not your father’s.” I tried to incorporate that into the book. So, to answer your question: working on the book helped with both.
Dreifus: Many biographers working on a long project complain that their subject has eaten up their life. Did that happen to you?
Caro: No. Because I don’t really regard my books as biographies. I’ve never had the slightest interest in writing a book to tell the life of a great man. I started The Power Broker because I realized that there was this man, Robert Moses, who had all this power and he had shaped New York for forty-four years. I regarded the book as a study of power in cities. After I finished that, I wanted to do national power. I felt I could learn about how power worked on a national level by studying Lyndon Johnson. I regard these books as studies in political power, not biography.