Are you my mother? A comic drama

Alison Bechdel, 1960-

Book - 2012

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BIOGRAPHY/Bechdel, Alison
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Subjects
Genres
Graphic novels
Published
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012.
Language
English
Physical Description
286 p. : chiefly ill. 24 cm
ISBN
9780618982509
0618982507
Main Author
Alison Bechdel, 1960- (-)
  • The ordinary devoted mother
  • Transitional objects
  • True and false self
  • Mind
  • Hate
  • Mirror
  • The use of an object.
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* With Fun Home (2006), the cartoonist of the long-running strip Dykes to Watch Out For gave readers a compelling narrative of how she was both formed and misinformed by literature, feminist politics, family dynamics, and her father's visual legacy. She goes well beyond this in her new graphic memoir. The metanarrative follows Bechdel as she researches, writes, and talks about the process of mining and metabolizing the incongruities in her mother's life and the similarities she finds in her own internal processes. Virginia Woolf and Donald Winnicott, a British child analyst and object-relations theorist, are extensively referenced here, with perfectly elided sequences to aid in understanding how and why Bechdel seeks and finds solace in psychotherapy and analysis; how she and her mother maintain a substantive, though essentially external, relationship; and how the cartoonist relates to her own work. The tension between inner and outer lives is a running motif in both the narrative arc and the imagery. Bechdel's adult insight on how a Dr. Seuss illustration that she loved as a child can be quickly reworked into a mother's womb is just one of many brilliantly realized metaphors. Her lines and angles are sharper than in Fun Home, and yet her self-image and her views of family members, lovers, and analysts are thorough, clear, and kind. Mothers, adult daughters, literati, memoir fans, and psychology readers are among the many who will find this outing a rousing experience. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This may be the most anticipated graphic novel of the year, and the 100,000-copy first printing—one of the highest yet for a graphic novel—attests to both Bechdel's popularity and the format's vast growth in recent years. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Named best book of the year by Time magazine in 2006, Fun Home explored Bechdel's relationship with her distant, closeted gay father. This time, Bechdel's subject is her mother, a passionate lover of books, art, and music who showed her daughter little affection. As Bechdel works her way through her own life, she eventually works her way back to her mother. With a big national tour. [Page 90]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Using the twin lenses of literature and psychoanalysis to peer into both past and present, Bechdel examines her own and her mother's lives, interwoven like M.C. Escher's infinite staircase. Simultaneously, she incorporates a metanarrative about herself documenting this history to produce a complex, almost dizzying tour de force of storytelling. In the same way the "fun" in Fun Home, her award-winning memoir about her father, was intended ironically, the term "comic drama" is similarly multivalent. Certainly, the second work more than matches the first for its blend of drama, poignancy, humor, and an intellectual bricolage that folds in Dr. Seuss, psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, Virginia Woolf, Bechdel's love life and childhood journals, and her talented mother's thwarted theater career. And as with Fun Home, her realistic black-white-gray inks are accented with color: here, deep red tones. VERDICT A rousing and even more intellectually challenging read than her previous work, Bechdel's new masterpiece toggles between multiple zones of time and the psyche, culminating in a complicated and deeply moving happy ending. Highly recommended for those drawn to Fun Home, literary comics, memoirs, and mother-daughter psychologies. Adult collections. [See LJ's Q&A with the author, ow.ly/ajC42.]—M.C. [Page 66]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Using literature and psychoanalysis as twin lenses, Bechdel examines her own and her mother's interwoven lives in a complex, almost dizzying tour de force of storytelling. More than matching her acclaimed Fun Home for its blend of drama, poignancy, and humor, this intellectually challenging bricolage toggles dexterously between multiple zones of time and the psyche, even folding in Dr. Seuss. (LJ 5/15/12) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

There was a danger inherent in the bestselling microscopically examined autobiography of Bechdel's Fun Home, namely that further work from this highly impressive artist could disappear so far down the rabbit hole of her own mind that readers might never find their way back out. Her first book since that masterful 2006 chronicle of her closeted father's suicide narrowly avoids that fate, but is all the stronger for risking it. This Jungian "comic drama" finds Bechdel investigating the quiet combat of another relationship: that of her distant, critical mother and her own tangled, self-defeating psyche. Bechdel's art has the same tightly observed aura of her earlier work, but with a deepening and loosening of style. The story, which sketches more of the author's professional and personal life outside of her family, is spiderwebbed with anxiety and self-consciousness ("I was plagued... with a tendency to edit my thoughts before they even took shape"). There's a doubling-back quality, mixed with therapeutic interludes that avoid self-indulgence and are studded with references to creative mentors like Virginia Woolf (another obsessive who yet took daring creative leaps), analyst Donald Winnicott, and Alice Miller. Though perhaps not quite as perfectly composed as Fun Home, this is a fiercely honest work about the field of combat that is family. (May) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A graphic novel follow-up to Fun Home depicts the author's mother as a voracious reader, music lover and passionate amateur actress who quietly suffers as the wife of a closeted gay artist and withdraws from her young daughter.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Depicts the author's mother as a voracious reader, music lover, and passionate amateur actress who quietly suffers as the wife of a closeted gay artist and withdraws from her young daughter, who searches for answers to the separation later in life.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

From the best-selling author of Fun Home, Time magazine's No. 1 Book of the Year, a brilliantly told graphic memoir of Alison Bechdel becoming the artist her mother wanted to be.Alison Bechdel's Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel's childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It's a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel's own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother'to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

From the best-selling author of Fun Home, Time magazine’s No. 1 Book of the Year, a brilliantly told graphic memoir of Alison Bechdel becoming the artist her mother wanted to be.Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel's childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It's a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel’s own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother—to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

From the best-selling author of Fun Home, Time magazine's No. 1 Book of the Year, a poignant and hilarious  graphic memoir of Alison Bechdel becoming the artist her gifted mother always wanted to be

Review by Publisher Summary 6

From the best-selling author of Fun Home, Time magazine's No. 1 Book of the Year, a poignant and hilarious  graphic memoir of Alison Bechdel becoming the artist her gifted mother always wanted to be