Tamara's Reviews > Are You My Mother?

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
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's review
Jun 11, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: being-human, memoir-bio, graphic-novels
Read in June, 2012

Dense. And clever.

But also, I get the feeling that the author enjoys, more than anything else, "the sense of having been clever". And somehow she shares this joy with me, the reader. Because really, I felt quite stupid while reading this book, until something would click, when she experienced an epiphany and then shared that experience with the me. Then I would feel like I was just as clever as she was for "getting it"

Themes are propelled by a psychoanalyst named Winnicott, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich. If this doesn't become assigned reading for every woman's studies class ever, I will be shocked.

The illustrations are mandatory. They help to ground the reader, providing a map and context for the giant shifts between literary references, memories, present-day events and dreams.

Side note: All of her therapists & girlfriends look alike to me. Not sure why that is.

Favorite Quotes

I must confess that I have taken to transcribing what [my mother] says. I don't think she knows I'm doing it, which makes it a bit unethical...I would have more scruples about this, I like to think, if I didn't suspect that she was not so much talking to me as drafting her own daily journal entry out loud.

I was suffering at this time from nearly unbearable spasms of professional envy.

People who come from turbulent families often see the universe or God as dangerous.

[About Mr. Beezum, the stuffed bear] His finely crafted gaze expresses a sublime and infinite compassion. It always calms me to look at him. He's not me, but he's not not-me, either.

All the infant wants -- indeed, all anyone wants -- is to go-on-being, without disruption.

...someone at their disposal who can be used as an echo

So the man who falls in love with beauty is quite different from the man who loves a girl and feels she is beautiful and can see what is beautiful about her.


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