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I read widely and in most genres but romance and westerns. Here you'll find my reviews since 2007, with a few reviews of previously read books as well.


In 2012, I completed an "authors of the world" challenge, reading a book for every country (and a few other entities) by someone who'd lived there for at least two years. I expect to tag these books by challenge and country in the near future. I'm still refining my list by adding books that better meet my challenge criteria.

Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama

Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama - As Bechdel and her mother agree late in the text, this is a meta-book. Unlike Fun Home, there's a distance or caution about it, though Bechdel punctuates this with moments of great anguish. Some possible contributors to this distance: --Bechdel's mother is still alive, so the negotiation about the book must include her, whereas in "the dad book," her father had died and her mother was an arbiter of his story.--The story of Bechdel and her mother is still unfolding, rather than concluded and summed up.--The revelatory content of the book is learning about what's missing in the relationship, whereas the discovery in Fun Home was of content-rich secrets.--The book, as a self-conscious meta-book, distances the reader from the contents.--The book is about processes more than about information. Not that this distance is a bad thing (and it might make the telling more effective). However, one effect of this structural choice is that it's probably less appealing to memoir readers in general, though more appealing to analytic geeks such as myself. I was completely absorbed by this memoir and very much enjoyed the overdetermination and synchronicity of meaning Bechdel creates, as in Fun Home, through her narrative, dreams, illustrations, and citations. The latter includes scaffolding by Winnicott with major appearances by Alice Miller's The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self, Woolf's To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway, and essays, Freud, Lacan, and others. (I should say as well that the ghost in the machine, the repressed content, is the chilren's book Are You My Mother?, from which the title presumably derives.)All that plus a lot of analytic psychotherapy and it created some startling points of connection with my own life and processes. Much like Maso's The Art Lover, I frequently had the experience of reading about my twin separated at birth, and with her own experiences, but with a strange and brightly mirrored resonance with my own. I also enjoyed reading this as a therapist. I frequently interrupted my partner (also a therapist) to point out frames that are so true to the therapeutic relationship that they made us laugh with recognition and admiration for Bechdel's observational skills. I'm a great fan of Winnicott, too, so it was great fun to see him as a central meta-character in Bechdel's memoir. It's a fine use of introjection and a transitional object. He'd have liked that.