snail’s-shell of a basque grammar
in bitumen blacks, a mossy tavern
dark briars with the voice of beaten tin
a medieval mourner in the angle of alms
bulls in their rites are dross unto his shin
a brave serpent of the saltpetre
flowers the perennial angel
we are whistling a barber’s…
Sunrise in Blue by Joseph Parker
by Sophie Wilkins
Over the last week and a half, I have been obsessed with Alison Bechdel after reading her graphic memoir/biography Are You My Mother as a part of my graduating senior seminar on Virginia Woolf. I am plowing through Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Of course in class, we mostly analyze the text-side of things in the novel, but as a part-time illustrator, I was very interested in Bechdel’s drawing process for this novel. I will not rehash any biographical history here; Bechdel discusses all of that briefly in this video herself, but I would definitely recommend both of the books that I mentioned to readers who have an interest in memoir and biographical writing.
Are You My Mother? focuses on Alison’s complicated relationship with her mother and deeply analyzes her troubled relationships, sexuality, and therapy sessions that eventually allow her to achieve a sense of resolution. It is not an easy read and is rather text heavy compared with other graphic novels and memoir, and the book does not pull any punches when it delves into psychoanalytic theory. It is a book that you will have to read in conjunction with others to suss out the nitty gritty theoretical details that will enrich your reading of Bechdel’s and her mother’s relationship.
I am midway through Fun Home and do not have anything really conclusive to say about it. This is a quicker and more plot-driven read. You will not have to do research to fully appreciate it as you would with Are You My Mother?.