HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama by Alison…
Loading...

Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Alison Bechdel

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8095211,269 (3.72)77
Member:Citizenjoyce
Title:Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama
Authors:Alison Bechdel
Info:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2012), Edition: 1st Edition, 1st Printing, Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:LGBT, Autobiography, Mothers, Mothers and Daughters, Family, Graphic, Psychoanalysis

Work details

Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel (2012)

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 77 mentions

English (51)  Danish (1)  All languages (52)
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
This feels like less a memoir about the author's mother, and rather more like a book report on Winnicott's work. Far too many quotations, which don't mesh with the graphic novel form that well. I find Fun Home a lot more readable and moving. ( )
  litalex | Jun 2, 2015 |
Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel is the follow up to Fun Home, a book about growing up in a mortuary. This book is completely focused on the author's relationship (or lack there of) with her mother, and the authors extensive years of therapy.

So reading a book by the creator of the Bechdel test, the first question is, does it pass. Yes. It passes by dint of having no male characters in it. Is it an interesting book? No. Was it a catharsis for the author, probably.

What I've learned from slogging through this graphic novel is that the author had (or maybe has) a hard time letting go of painful memories. Her mother wasn't particularly maternal and her father was suffering from depression (but he's only mentioned in passing) and the author spent more time in therapy that in writing this book.

But there was no character growth. No plot. No humor. No rise and fall to the emotions. Just lots and lots and lots of therapy recreated in a graphic novel format.

If you have issues with your mother, then this memoir might be for you. If you are a rabid fan of the author's comics, this book might be for you. Everyone else can probably skip this one. ( )
  pussreboots | May 4, 2015 |
Like Alison Bechdel's Fun Home before it, Are You My Mother? is the deeply personal memoir of her relationship with her mother. Like Fun Home, this book is not about her mother herself, but more about Bechdel's complicated feelings and relationship with her mother - if this sounds like an invitation to a Freudian joke, brace yourself.

Like Proust, Joyce, and other authors that she used to try and connect with her father, Bechdel sees the relationship between her mother and herself through the work of a psychoanalyst named Donald Winnicott, and the sessions she has with her therapist in which they discuss Bechdel's mother. This leads to such "breakthroughs" as dream interpretation, Freudian slips, and other pieces of psychoanalytic jargon that have largely been debunked. While I try to keep an open mind, some of the breakthroughs seemed to be almost a parody of the therapeutic session. As one of my friends who studied psychology once dryly told me, "You learn Freud so that they can tell you how wrong he was."

One session includes this scene:

CAPTION: I had made two copies of the manuscript. One for Mom, and one for me to refer to when I talked to her. I put my copy in a re-used folder.

BECHDEL: Then I noticed it's the folder I took notes on in our "reaction formation" session a couple months ago. Remember? I was talking about my awful gnawing envy of other people's success?
JOCELYN: I remember!
BECHDEL: You said I'd reversed my own aggression, turned it on myself, and I felt this immediate relief! I wonder if writing the book is a way of directing my aggression out instead of in? And that's why I put it in this particular folder? (pg. 164)

To quote somebody or other - sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

This same premise was used for Fun Home; Bechdel saw parallels in her reading with her relationship and how she felt about her father, which worked in tandem to show and elucidate her complicated feelings. But what was charming in that one was annoying and tiresome here, unless you happen to devoutly believe in dream interpretation.

That said, the same reliance on Freudian and Jungian symbolism is precisely what makes Bechdel's artwork so powerful. In one scene, a memory from when she was young and joined her mother in watching a show, the background chatter of the characters illuminates the subtext of a tense exchange between her mother and herself:

CHARACTER: It's a hard question, the hardest I've ever had to answer.
MOTHER: Do you love me? (pg. 86)

Every detail of her drawings, even the faintest suggestions of colors (reds and pinks, whereas Fun Home had a blue theme), are symbolic and highlight what is being said beneath the dialogue. Bechdel's artwork in general, as always, balances flawlessly between realism and cartoon. She intersperses her scenes with pages of books, letters, photographs, and other ephemera, which seems more like a collage or scrapbook than a flat book - which is appropriate, given the subject of family.

My annoyance with the constant analysis - there is a reason aspiring novelists are often told that no one cares about someone else's dreams - softened toward the end, when I began to see it in a more metaphorical light. Maybe that's what Bechdel was going for originally, and maybe not; I cannot say. But she uses To the Lighthouse as a framing device later and there is a note that is significant, which links Winnicott's theories on objects and subjects, as well as the resentment she feels toward her mother for not supporting her the way she wants, but also the dependence and reliance (that is, mothers: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em).

While still glittering with a sharp intellectual mind, smudged with beautiful drawings, and sinking in subtext, I cannot say that Are You My Mother? lived up to my expectations after following the - in my opinion - superior Fun Home*.

* If we're delving into symbolism, is it meaningful that I prefer the memoir-of-the-father over the mother's, considering Bechdel accuses her own mother of showing preference to the men in the family over her? Ah, well.
( )
  kittyjay | Apr 23, 2015 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2446861.html

I really loved Bechdel's Fun Home, which analysed her relationship with her closeted, repressed father; this didn't quite spark for me in the same way, though it's still pretty good. It's the story of Bechdel's mother's life, and of how Bechdel herself came to write it all down, and of her own relationships with lovers and therapists over the years. Perhaps because it lacks the brutal punchline of Fun Home, it felt rather less structured and didn't have the same element of drama. Bechdel is still sharply observant, not least of herself. ( )
  nwhyte | Apr 8, 2015 |
(Originally posted at https://bigpapageek.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/book-review-are-you-my-mother-by-alison-bechdel/ )

It is no exaggeration to say that Allison Bechdel is an unqualified master of sequential art (known colloquially as comics or graphic novels).

Her long-running comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, is widely considered a landmark achievement in comics, not only for it's long-running nature (1983-2008), but also for it's humanizing, empathetic and honest portrayal of the LGBTQ community. Her first full length work, the graphic memoir Fun Home, was instantly hailed as a modern classic, one of the best books of the 2000's, and was Time Magazine's 2006 Book of the Year.

In 2011, I wrote,

"Calling this a "triumph of the form" would be an understatement. Absolutely stunning, deeply literate, suffused with melancholy and loss but also full of joy and humor. It deserved every honor it received."

In addition to these honors, she is also a MacArthur Fellow, and is the originator of The Bechdel Test.

Put simply, Alison Bechdel is one of my favorite authors, and her most recent work, Are You My Mother: A Comic Drama, only confirms that.

Whereas Fun Home dealt primarily with Bechdel's troubled relationship with her father (a conflicted, closeted gay man who ran the local funeral home), in Are You My Mother, Bechdel tackles the somewhat more thorny topic of her relationship with her mother. Released in May, 2012, Are You My Mother deals primarily with period of time during which Bechdel wrote Fun Home, but take numerous digressions into her past romantic relationships, her childhood, her therapy session, her parent's courtship and early marriage (seen primarily in letters), and even into her dreams.

And as in Fun Home, Bechdel's observations and reflections are also filtered through a number of literary and psychological filters.

Chief amongst these are Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse and various letters, the lives and writings of the psychoanalysts Donald Winnicott and Alice Miller, and the works of Sigmund Freud. I'll be the first to admit, I haven't read any of the the works she references, but she integrates them so smoothly into her narrative that this never became an issue. Key to this integration is Bechdel's skill as an artist, draftsman (draftswoman?), and graphic storyteller.


This panel is just one example of how Bechdel balances multiple layers of meaning, symbolism and narrative, with all the elements lending additional texture and significance to the others. This juxtaposition of image and text is unique to to the comics format, and Bechdel uses it to stunning effect, as seen again in this dense, and ultimately haunting two page splash.


To be honest, the act of reading Are You My Mother was more than a little overwhelming, due to the density of the imagery and the weight of it's themes. But this in no way diminishes the value and power of the work itself. My guess is that I will return to it again and again, and that it will continue to reveal new riches each time I do.

What graphic novel has affected you the most? ( )
  bigpapageek | Feb 28, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
"For nothing was simply one thing." ~ Virginia Woolf
Dedication
For my mother, who knows who she is.
First words
While engaged in some sort of home-improvement project, I inadvertently block my exit from a dank cellar.
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618982507, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:12 -0400)

Alison Bechdels 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 Bechdels own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Motherto a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
184 wanted3 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.72)
0.5
1 5
1.5 2
2 17
2.5 12
3 75
3.5 19
4 108
4.5 9
5 65

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 97,907,799 books! | Top bar: Always visible