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Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama (2012)

by Alison Bechdel

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1,931998,434 (3.65)118
Writer and cartoonist Alison Bechdel writes about her relationship with her mother.
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English (97)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (99)
Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
Interesting graphic novel about a complex mother - daughter relationship. ( )
  secondhandrose | Oct 31, 2023 |
I think I will want to read this one again in a few months. ( )
  lemontwist | Sep 4, 2023 |
Wow, this book was frustrating. Under the guise of writing about her mother, Alison Bechdel mostly explored A) her own insecurity and B) pyschoanalysis. So much psychoanalysis. Mostly Winnicott. So, I mean, on the one hand, psychoanalysis is a widely debunked borderline pseudo-science. And on the other hand, it seems to have loaned Alison Bechdel a lot of insight. Maybe not so much personal growth in that she's still writing books "about her mother" about psychoanalysis, including transcribed passages of her life that she was explicitly told not to write down by her psychoanalysis (including transcribing that she's not supposed to be writing them down.) But I have a lot of insight into the inner life of Alison Bechdel now?

This memoir is harsh, honestly. Not really so much on Alison Bechdel's mother, who comes off feeling pretty distant for an ostensible focal point, but on Alison herself, who pulls no punches in depicting her insecurity, fear of commitment and transference to psychiatrists. It was pretty uncomfortable reading. ( )
  settingshadow | Aug 19, 2023 |
I am not sure I have the intelligence or the insight to do a review of this book justice but here goes...

"The thing is, I can't write this book until I get her out of my head. But the only way to get her out of my head is by writing the book! It's a paradox."

Previously in Fun House, Bechdel explored her relationship with her father. This time around we delve into her mother as Bechdel searches for answers to the gulf she feels exists between them. The book covers daily phone conversations with her mother, therapy sessions where Bechdel herself tries to figure out their relationship and strange dreams about her life and memories. We learn how her mother and father met, her mother’s passion for acting and lack of passion for motherhood. Laid over all of this is the mother/child relationship discussed through the work of psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, and his theories about narcissistic cathexis, true and false self, destruction of the object.

Heavy stuff!

Families are complicated and this book shows that. Even in the best families where parents are present and engaged things can be difficult but while Bechdel herself admits her family was not the worst you feel that she desperately seeks the love she never got as a child and also feels she is not worthy of that love.

Much of the book had me feeling anxious and on edge, something I can only attribute to Bechdel's skill in conveying her own feelings. As she tries to piece together their relationship this is shown in paper cutting and highlight sections from books along with illustrations of therapy sessions and Bechdel life. It is a scrap book of her life.

An interesting read from a well known lesbian artist.
  rosienotrose | Jul 11, 2023 |
I absolutely loved Fun House (by the same author). But where that one hit all the right notes for me, this one just fell flat.

It has a meta-story about her therapy where she learns to accept her relationship with her mother in order to be able to write about it in a follow-up memoir about her other parent (Fun House was a memoir about her father). But, in the words of Cheryl Strayed, "Writing is hard for every last one of us.... Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal?"

I'm just not interested in this kind of memoir. ( )
  rumbledethumps | Jun 26, 2023 |
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Epigraph
"For nothing was simply one thing." ~ Virginia Woolf
Dedication
For my mother, who knows who she is.
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While engaged in some sort of home-improvement project, I inadvertently block my exit from a dank cellar.
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Writer and cartoonist Alison Bechdel writes about her relationship with her mother.

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Average: (3.65)
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