Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama is Alison Bechdel’s memoir about her relationship with her mother and her therapists and about writing Fun Home. Because it’s about writing the previous book and how much her mother didn’t like that she’d written it, but also about psychoanalysis, it feels more like a meta-book.
She writes and draws a lot about feeling self-conscious, and transcribes so many bits about writing memoir that it feels more like an essay than a story. Which isn’t a bad thing. It makes me want to read her sources.
One of the things I really like about both of these Bechdel books is how she draws the pages from the things she’s reading. She draws the typewriter font and highlights the interesting text, but leaves the surrounding bits in there for context. She also has people’s letters and her drawings of photographs. This whole layer of drawing and selecting as construction fascinates the hell out of me.
I don’t think I found this one as compelling as Fun Home because the relationship between Bechdel and her mother is ongoing. It’s harder to make it all fit into a book. In any nonfiction you’re making arbitrary endpoints but it’s always easier when you’ve got something natural like a death to crystallize around. In Are You My Mother? there isn’t that one thing, which seems to make it a harder book to create. So in some ways the book becomes about how hard it is to make itself. Which some people might not enjoy, but I did.
I liked Fun Home a bit better, but I still enjoyed this thoughtful exploration of the author's mother and how their connection played out in other parts of her life.
A clever introduction to psychoanalysis and a brave exploration of the author's own relationship with her mother.
Bechdel's second graphic novel memoir focuses in on her relationship with her mother and her years in therapy. She writes in a wonderful, self-reflexive and analytic style, and the work is full of masterful drawing and interesting literary references. But I am not crazy about all of the retelling of dreams and the deep dives into slights the author experienced as a child. The book feels a bit tortured in its writing, especially when Bechdel writes about how tortured she is in her writing. But if you loved Fun Home (as I did), you may still find this to be a satisfying read.
I didn't love this book. There was too much focus on psychoanalyst Winnicott and author Virginia Wolfe. I wasn't overly interested in the history of these two people.
Every chapter started with a dream sequence, then Bechdel would recount pieces of her personal life with her mother, psychiatrist and girlfriends over the years.
The story felt too choppy to me, with Bechdel continuously dividing her time between all of these different focuses.
A few days after reading Fun Home (by the same author), I randomly found this book at the library, and checked it out. This is the perfect followup to Fun Home. It was well researched, beautifully drawn, and remarkably easy to understand, despite the nonlinear storytelling style. Alison's journey through depression, relationships, her own emotions, and most of all, her relationship with her mother is a thought provoking ride for any reader. I found it very relatable personally, and I suspect many people would, whatever their background.
I like the style, artwork, and tone, but the story gets a bit too introspective/self analytic for me. I couldn't finish it.
NYPL Staff Pick
A cartoonist explores why the intersection of her mother’s life, her own psyche, and her relationship with her mother make her the person she is.
- Selection Team
i was intrigued by the title so i checked it out. although the art was good, i was disappointed. it is a very self-absorbed text and who really wants to read near-transcripts of someone's therapy sessions? this goes on for many pages. also very heavy on psychological texts, which was ok. i think i'll try funhome instead next time
Aww i remember readin this book to my son, its really nice indeed.. are you my mother? lol
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