What’s It About: Graphic novel sequel to Fun Home, which analyzed Bechdel’s relationship with her father, that now analyzes her more abstract relationship with her mom, as well as her most recent experiences as a writer and in therapy.
Why?: Fun Home was awesome!
Thoughts: Though neither of Bechdel’s parents create a nurturing, concrete connection with their children, Fun Home managed to really provide a deep, multifaceted understanding of her father, even though it managed to maintain a wonderfully complex critical distance and narrative voice. Bechdel’s exploration of her sexuality throughout childhood and college found meaning in her own father’s undercover homosexuality and eventual suicide.
Perhaps because this identification doesn’t exist with her mother, Are You My Mother? resorts to a lot more abstract, theoretical distance, such as the pervading discourse on Winnicott’s mother-child psychology (I had to often resort to Wikipedia to understand the concepts Bechdel only briefly defines). Also, this sequel spends a much larger portion of the book on her own life experiences– her early writings and comics, her relationships with various women and her therapists, and her writing of Fun Home. Her mother is largely absent or, when relating discussions, mostly on the phone. Bechdel can’t directly access her mother as much as she did her father, most likely because any relationship she does have with her mother is fraught with artificiality and disapproval.
That being said, I admire Bechdel’s utter honesty about her life and relationships. It must be *just a bit weird* to draw yourself having an orgasm for all your devoted readers to see. I also loved being introduced to various psychological theories and, once I used outside sources to understand them, seeing them applied concretely to life experiences. All in all, though Are You My Mother? is a less fascinating and versatile read than Fun Home, I recommend it highly.