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Sei Tu Mia Madre? (2012)

Sei tu mia madre? (2012)

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3.63 of 5 Votes: 1
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8817058661 (ISBN13: 9788817058667)
Rizzoli Lizard

About book Sei Tu Mia Madre? (2012)

For American literature grad students of my particular generation, this was probably the cliche read of 2013--I differ from this only by getting to it a year late. And, fuck it, I loved this book to death. Here are words I never thought I'd write: I actually teared up a little bit at the Lacan stuff. The discussion and practice of close reading, and the Sondheim bits, had me feeling the way I imagine the training montage in Rocky IV was meant to make me feel. But, you know, beware: it's kind of wanky. I can vividly imagine why someone wouldn't like this at all. If the thought of a book including both MA seminars and the author commenting on psychoanalysts commenting on other psychoanalysts gives you the willies, you're not going to like this. I've heard or read several people complaining that Alison Bechdel's second graphic memoir is too introspective, solipsistic even. Some people wonder why she and her therapy figure so prominently in the book, and some reviewers take her to task for the deeply personal nature of the story. That is exactly what I love about this book, though. Just as she framed her father's story in a complex examination of several literary texts, her mother's story is understood through Bechdel's own readings in psychoanalysis and the work she did with two therapists, Jocelyn and Carol. I should just say it -- Bechdel is intimidatingly smart, and that is both a strength of the book and, for me at least, a bit of a hurdle. I'll need to read this book a few more times before I can totally follow her. My brain doesn't work nearly as quickly or as efficiently as hers. The story, too, winds and twists back on itself, unfolding in messy and nonlinear ways the way memory does. Don't get me wrong, though. Unfolds is probably not the best word; it connotes inertia, and this story is anything but passive. Bechdel actively and sometimes painfully (and painstakingly) unravels her story and that of her mother. Several panels show her transcribing phone conversations with her mother, and she does a great deal of research into the work of several psychoanalysts, primarily Donald Winnicott and Alice Miller. As always, her drawings are spare but precise and incredibly detailed. Frankly, it's difficult to understand how she combines the two. The most powerful and penetrating part of this memoir, though, is its raw emotion. We literally see it on Bechdel's face -- one pane in particular struck me. I felt like a peeping tom, looking in her therapist's window to see Bechdel with her face in her hands, in anguish during one of their sessions. I don't see this as solipsistic at all. In fact, I find her honesty and forthrightness courageous. She has laid herself bare, opening herself up to her therapists and to us. Some readers wonder why her therapy figures so prominently in a book that is supposed to be about her mother. That misses the point. The title of the book is a question. She's on a search for her mother, just as the character in the Dr. Seuss book of the same name is on a quest. Unlike that character, though, she isn't primarily concerned with identifying/finding her mother. After all, Bechdel knows who her mother is, at least in the biological sense, but she doesn't know her mother on that deeper level that we are often referring to when we talk about "knowing" someone. And, of course, she's also looking for something that she didn't get from her mother in infancy and is therefore searching for a stand in -- a mother mirror that will reflect something more positive than the self loathing that fuels her imposter syndrome. All in all I really enjoyed this book, and it moved me more than Fun Home. In the hands of a skilled writer, the most personal of stories can be the most relatable.

Do You like book Sei Tu Mia Madre? (2012)?

Compelling enough to keep me reading, but not nearly as interesting as "Fun Home."

Scary good - need to read Fun Home now.

give her all the genius grants.

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