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Are You My Mother?


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An expansive, moving and captivating graphic memoir from 'one of the finest cartoonists at work today'.

Promotional Information

An expansive, moving and captivating graphic memoir from 'one of the finest cartoonists at work today'.

About the Author

Alison Bechdel is the author of the bestselling memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, which was named a Best Book of the Year by Time, Entertainment Weekly, the New York Times, and People among others. For twenty-five years, she wrote and drew the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, a visual chronicle of modern life - queer and otherwise - considered 'one of the pre-eminent oeuvres in the comics genre.' Alison Bechdel is guest editor of Best American Comics, 2011, and has drawn comics for Slate, McSweeney's, Entertainment Weekly, Granta, and the New York Times Book Review.


There was a danger inherent in the bestselling microscopically examined autobiography of Bechdel's Fun Home, namely that further work from this highly impressive artist could disappear so far down the rabbit hole of her own mind that readers might never find their way back out. Her first book since that masterful 2006 chronicle of her closeted father's suicide narrowly avoids that fate, but is all the stronger for risking it. This Jungian "comic drama" finds Bechdel investigating the quiet combat of another relationship: that of her distant, critical mother and her own tangled, self-defeating psyche. Bechdel's art has the same tightly observed aura of her earlier work, but with a deepening and loosening of style. The story, which sketches more of the author's professional and personal life outside of her family, is spiderwebbed with anxiety and self-consciousness ("I was plagued... with a tendency to edit my thoughts before they even took shape"). There's a doubling-back quality, mixed with therapeutic interludes that avoid self-indulgence and are studded with references to creative mentors like Virginia Woolf (another obsessive who yet took daring creative leaps), analyst Donald Winnicott, and Alice Miller. Though perhaps not quite as perfectly composed as Fun Home, this is a fiercely honest work about the field of combat that is family. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Fun Home and Are You My Mother? are the kind of head-spinningly thoughtful and textured works that make you rejoice in the comic-book form. * Daily Telegraph *
I emotionally lost myself in this book... It made me realise that people aren't always perfect. -- Tavi Gevinson * ELLE *
It's a beautiful (and beautifully illustrated) look at the complexity and dysfunctionality of family through a unique lens - and frames things in such a way that you can't help but re-examine your own relationships, too. -- Emily Reynolds * Stylist *
Are You My Mother? is a work of the most humane kind of genius, bravely going right to the heart of things: why we are who we are. It's also incredibly funny. And visually stunning. And page-turningly addictive. And heartbreaking. -- Jonathan Safran Foer
As absorbing as it is graced with a deceptive lightness of touch, it is clever, brilliantly pieced together, and utterly unusual. -- Robert Collins * Sunday Times *

Using the twin lenses of literature and psychoanalysis to peer into both past and present, Bechdel examines her own and her mother's lives, interwoven like M.C. Escher's infinite staircase. Simultaneously, she incorporates a metanarrative about herself documenting this history to produce a complex, almost dizzying tour de force of storytelling. In the same way the "fun" in Fun Home, her award-winning memoir about her father, was intended ironically, the term "comic drama" is similarly multivalent. Certainly, the second work more than matches the first for its blend of drama, poignancy, humor, and an intellectual bricolage that folds in Dr. Seuss, psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, Virginia Woolf, Bechdel's love life and childhood journals, and her talented mother's thwarted theater career. And as with Fun Home, her realistic black-white-gray inks are accented with color: here, deep red tones. VERDICT A rousing and even more intellectually challenging read than her previous work, Bechdel's new masterpiece toggles between multiple zones of time and the psyche, culminating in a complicated and deeply moving happy ending. Highly recommended for those drawn to Fun Home, literary comics, memoirs, and mother-daughter psychologies. Adult collections. [See LJ's Q&A with the author,]-M.C. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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