Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama

Are You My Mother? - Alison Bechdel I am giving this book three stars, but I think I am being a bit generous. Two stars may be a bit closer to how I felt about it, but the book is not a total loss. I feel bad about that rating given that I enjoyed her previous book, Fun Home, immensely. The main problem, and we may as well just get to it right away, is the excessive psychoanalysis stuff she has put throughout the book. At times the book feels more like I am reading a psychology and psychoanalysis textbook than an actual biography/memoir. A little bit would have been ok, but once it became practically every single page of Winnicott says this, and Virginia Woolf says that, and Freud said the other thing, I sort of starting tuning out. That is a pity because Bechdel does have a good and universal story to tell: that of how mothers and daughters relate to each other. The book would make a nice companion to the graphic novel memoir about her father. The art is very good; she does an excellent job with the art as she did before. And the book does have some poignant and moving moments in the story of a woman trying to figure out her relationship to her mother and looking at how she grew up as daughter of a woman of many talents who had to repress them for a marriage that would turn out less than ideal. It is compelling, but all the psychology stuff simply gets in the way. It's like Bechdel can't have an insight without having to quote some textbook or other, and that, sadly, detracts from the work. So, if you liked Fun Home, then you may want to read this for the sake of completion. However, if you have to choose between the two, pick the other one.