Most graphic novels are the kinds that you could binge-read and be done in a few hours. That’s not the case with “Are You My Mother” by Alison Bechdel – a stunningly honest memoir that explores the writer’s relationship with her mother.
The book took years to write and can only be truly appreciated if it’s read over a few days. It delves heavily on psychoanalysis to draw parallels between the two key protagonists. Donald Woods Winnicott’s theories find a lot of space in the panels, especially what he said about the ‘true self’ and the ‘false self’. He was a famous psychoanalyst.
Virginia Woolf is another figure who influences the narrative to understand the writer’s interactions with her own mother. Bechdel talks of how Woolf was obsessed with her own mother and could get past her unresolved issues with her parents only after writing the book ‘To The Lighthouse’. It makes the reader rethink their own ties with their parents through a whole new lens.
Just like her first memoir ‘Fun Home’, which was very raw and personal, ‘Are You My Mother?’ too gives us a front row seat in the head of the writer. The way Bechdel is able to share such intimate parts of her life is just awe-inspiring. A comic panels are goofy, witty and full of life. As a reader, you might find yourself laughing out loud at the humour of every-day life.
Bechdel also brilliantly brings out the despair, desolation and deep envy writers tend to feel about their more famous peers in the panels. I only wish I had bought this book a lot earlier.