"The one thing she needed from me was that I not need anything from her." (p. 260)If you've read it, you know that Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic isn't really much fun, so it should be no surprise that this "comic drama" is comic mostly in the sense of its graphic format, not in terms of humor or lightness. In fact, it's much more serious and deeper than her first memoir. It may not seem to come to a rousing dramatic conclusion, but it packs a punch if you read it carefully.Bechdel's story focuses on her mother (as Fun Home focused on her father)—but more on their relationship, and how it developed and changed as Bechdel came out as a lesbian, entered and left adult relationships, pursued her cartooning career (including the earlier book), and (significantly) talked through all of this with a series of therapists and analysts. I'm not going to try to summarize the plot, which whirls back and forth in time, linking images and allusions across decades both within Bechdel's life and beyond. Its main structure, though, is a step in the child's psychological development identified by D. W. Winnicott, many of whose works are quoted (in a delightful visual way: a drawn and hand-lettered image of the page itself, with the key passage highlighted). Other psychoanalytic writers come in for support: Alice Miller's The Drama of the Gifted Child; Adam Phillips; even Lacan. Bechdel's main literary reference, though, is Virginia Woolf, particularly To the Lighthouse. Like Lily Briscoe, Bechdel has had her vision, and Are You My Mother? both is that vision and tells the story of how she got there.It's a story that makes me deeply interested in psychoanalysis, for the first time. Where Freud cast everything in terms of sexual trauma, even when there never was any trauma, Winnicott (at least as represented by Bechdel) brings things back to a level I can understand and identify in my own life: it's all about what kind of attention and affection the child gets, particularly from her mother. To develop the capacity for healthy adult relationships, the child must learn to see herself as a subject independent from her mother, who then becomes an object she can use (in Winnicott's unfortunate but appropriate terminology). And to do that, the child must "destroy" the mother by rejecting or countermanding her (the mother's) desire for identification, and then see that the mother survives her destruction as an independent being.Maybe that sounds as hokey to you as Freud does to me. But if something there seems to make a glimmer of sense, then this book will give you plenty to think about.Reread on 19-20 June, before I had to return it to the library.