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On Jun 07, 2012 09:22PM ET in Green 101
The artist and writer Alison Bechdel was interviewed recently by Lambda Literary about her new graphic novel memoir, Are You My Mother?, which was published last month. Bechdel’s beautiful new book analyzes her personal relationships, as well how we relate to one another and manage to function. Bechdel is also the creator of the critically acclaimed memoir, Funhome: A Family Tragicomic, as well as the much beloved cartoon series, Dykes to Watch Out For.
Here is a brief excerpt from the engaging article:
What do you hope readers will take away from the memoir?
I should have grappled with that question before I started writing this book. What interested me most while writing, even more than trying to figure out my relationship with my mother, was trying to figure out my relationship to other people and other subjectivities. I hope that people can relate to the effort of trying to connect with other people who are the center of their own universe…in the way that we are each the center of our own universe.
One of the really interesting things for me with the memoir was the way you weave in and out different texts. Can you talk a little bit about how you chose the texts (Winnicott, Virginia Woolf, etc.) that you reference in the book?
It wasn’t so much a searching. It was more stuff that grew organically out of my story. I did know that I was really interested in Donald Winnicott, so I started reading his work early in my process of working on the book. I started with reading first his biography, and then his actual theoretical statements. Those took me a long time to really understand, because I had to teach myself about psychoanalysis. It was a lot of research and just gradually I realized there were kernels that I wanted to fit into my story.
What kind of advice might you give to lesbians who are struggling with writing about the difficult relationships they have with their mothers?
I don’t know, I feel like it was worth doing for me. I feel like I pushed through something with it, and I feel like it also forced me to really engage with my mom in a way that I might not have otherwise. Because of the weird cerebral nature of our connection, it was a way to get closer to her. Writing a memoir about living people in your family is a problematic undertaking. I think I only do it because my family was so screwed up in a very particular way…
You can read Alison Bechdel’s interview in its entirety at LambdaLiterary.org