Saturday, September 21, 2013
Title: Are You My Mother? a comic drama
By: Alison Bechdel
Are You My Mother?
What an amazing find! I picked up this graphic narrative because the title evokes the children’s book classic Are You My Mother? in which a baby bird wanders around questioning everyone it meets. Bechdel’s cover art -- a vanity, makeup, jewelry -- is our first cue this will be an adult treatment of the question.
Bechdel digs into her relationship with her mother, sharing dreams, insights from therapy, and memories. She has a superb knack for synthesizing and presenting psychological concepts so clearly and concisely that before you know it you are right back into the flow of the story. The poignancy of her writing is matched by the sensitivity of her graphic illustrations.
Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic
After being wowed by Are You My Mother? I had to read this earlier graphic narrative about Bechdel’s father. In her skillful way, she uses characters and scenes from classic literature to illustrate various troubling or puzzling passages of her family’s life. Authors mentioned include Proust, Camus, and Fitzgerald. Bechdel’s book lives up to its title; her father runs a Fun(eral) Home and meets a tragic end. The stories and images used to evoke Bechdel’s emotional life combine to make this graphic memoir a gripping experience.