Is anybody here familliar with the book "Maus"? It was about a holocaust survivor who couldn't cope in the real world. He had constant flashbacks and his relationships were always strained. He also had a strong survival instinct that made him stronger, even though he was scarred.
I would have to disagree a little bit with your assessment of Vladek Spiegelman. He actually coped quite well in "the real world". He did have his personality flaws, to be sure. He was stingy, miserly, a compulsive packrat, bigoted, and domineering. His son Art, who wrote the book "Maus", was worried that portraying his father so accurately would perpetuate the stereotype of the miserly Jew. Was his father this way because of life in the camps, or was it because of these traits that he managed to survive?
Also, why was he able to cope with life after the camps, while Anja Spiegelman ultimately could not, and killed herself in the late 1960's, twenty years after Auschwitz?
Ultimately, it boiled down to this:Those that survived that camps did not accomplish this because they were better than those who did not. Nice people died, not so nice survived. If surviving was "winning", did that mean that dying was losing?
Art Spiegelman created a great work that dealt with surviving the most horrific of experiences, and how it can affect a person decades later. It's a complex work, made more accessible because of being in a comic book form. I first read it years ago, and I still re-read it frequently.
His book, "In The Shadow of No Towers" is a great eyewitness account of 9/11 and the aftermath (he lives a mile from where the WTC used to be.) My favorite anecdote is about the old homeless women who used to curse at him every day in some foreign, incomprehensible language when he walked to his studio. The day after 9/11, she was cursing at him in completely understandable English.
Some of his politics are a little too lefty for my liking, but he's a fascinating writer and artist. (and he created Wacky Packages and The Garbage Pail Kids, two of my favorite memories of childhood!).