Tope's Reviews > Are You My Mother?

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
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's review
Jun 16, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: female-authors, female-protagonists, graphic-novels, memoir, women-gender-sexuality, mental-health
Read from June 11 to 16, 2012

This was deeply uncomfortable to read. Not just because it's basically an extended psychoanalytic therapy session with Alison Bechdel - and thus an excruciatingly detailed and intimate metanarrative of her life - but also because a lot of it was just way close to home for me. I found myself honestly repulsed by Bechdel's extreme self-consciousness/performance of self, which comes across as indulgent and self-absorbed (it's crystal clear what she means by the recurring motif of the "false self"). At the same time I identify personally with issues similar or identical to much of what she relates about her family and inner life...which is a bit terrifying. The main thought that kept coming to mind as I read the second half of the book was that I really hope I'm not treading this same psychic ground - infantilizing territory in a very real sense - when I'm Bechdel's age :/ (50+). On the third hand, heh, it's clear that Bechdel's dysfunctional family history and her own OCD play a large part in her hangups, and it seems a bit unfair to hold that against her. Bechdel would probably say I'm projecting my aggression against myself on her and the book, and I don't think she'd be wrong in that respect. Long story short, after reading Are You My Mother?, I feel like I sat in on an intense and painful therapy session myself; It's a masterful piece of work, and there's lots of food for thought - it requires at least a second read to get the most out of it - but I can't really say it was at all an enjoyable read.

Less thoughtful review: Oh my GAWD but Bechdel records every last tedious detail of her life. And are her dreams *really* that vivid, so faithfully remembered, so neatly fit into psychoanalytic frameworks? I guess I don't have any trouble believing that she records all of her dreams and pores over every details. The rest, though...0_0

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Reading Progress

06/12/2012 page 90
30.0% "Bechdel runs with all the aspects of Fun Home that I found reaching and indulgent. I find myself both repulsed by her self-absorption and disturbed by traits of hers that I see reflected in myself."
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