London part II

November 17th, 2012 | Other Projects

This week has been a crazy blur. Here’s some of the crowd at King’s College for my event with Adam Phillips on Thursday.

crowd at kings

And here I am talking with Adam. I really enjoyed this talk with my psychoanalytic idol.

me and ap

It was different from most of the public events I’ve done recently–and I’ve done a lot–because I feel like we got down into the substance of the book in a real way. There will be a podcast at some point I think, if you’re interested. He was really great, and kind, and had all sorts of brilliant insights into my story. I especially liked that he wanted to talk about the epigraph, from To The Lighthouse, “Nothing is just one thing.” He gave an eloquent explanation of where it comes in the book and what it means. There are two lighthouses for James Ramsay: the fantasy one from his childhood, and the somewhat disappointing, but real one from the present. Likewise in my book, there are two mothers: the wanted, desired mother. And the real mother. And in the end, Phillips said, I accept that what I have is my real mother. That felt like a remarkable conversation to have, in this strange somewhat stilted public context of a large crowd listening to two people talk.

For anyone who wanted to know how our Garden Flat Mishap turned out, my publisher very graciously moved Hol and me to a nice hotel. Where I immediately began to draw a comic strip about the whole thing. They had this great desk with a glass top, and a drawer underneath. So I put my iPhone in there with the flashlight on and it served as a very functional light table.

hotel cartooning 1

12 Responses to “London part II”

  1. Ellen Orleans says:

    Wow, what a powerful conversation. I was talking about Are You My Mother? with friends this weekend, and how writing about your mother is a moving target. There’s ideal mother and real mother, and also remembered mother, real and perceived mother before and as you wrote Fun Home and before and as you wrote AYMM?.

    Love that the iPhone can create a light table. Sometimes I wonder if there’s anything that piece of technology can’t do…?

    No Thanksgiving in London I suspect but I wish you a happy one anyway.

  2. soukup says:

    Oh, please oh please oh please do make a podcast! It sounds like it was a great conversation, and I would so love to listen in.

  3. Kate L says:

    A.B. … and, here I thought that light tables* were going the way of landlines and cassette tape! Sad to say, there was an immense light table left out in the departmental hallway here at Moo U, free to anyone who wanted it. I didn’t see it, just now.

    * Geologists used to make extensive use of light tables, for making contour maps of underground geologic structures and such. Scientists in general used to need ready access to light tables for drafting illustrations for their journal articles and slides for scientific meetings. My father, a chemist, used to say he needed his commercial art training from his youth for just such purposes. It’s all computerized, now…

  4. Toni says:

    Kate- as a photographer still working with film and old alternative processes I still rely on light tables. Sure wish I had been there to pick that one up. There are still a few of us out here that have not been swallowed up by computers.

  5. Peggy Luhrs says:

    Love it, Alison Bechdel does MacGyver. Glad you’re out of the rising damp. Would love to hear the podcast.

  6. Acilius says:

    @Kate- For several years of my youth I was a librarian in charge of a collection of slides, so a light table figures in some of my fondest memories.

  7. Andrew B says:

    I like the contrast in postures and hairstyles between AB and AP. Alison, I hope you’ll publicize the podcast when it becomes available. Also, how about posting the whole of “Rising Damp”?

  8. Sophie B says:

    I was at the talk and felt really lucky to be there – it was fascinating to listen in on your conversation and to witness some particularly bright moments of insight. What Phillips said about comics as reading from childhood really struck a chord with me, and I particularly enjoyed the exchange about preferred selves and what it takes to feel real. I was furiously note-taking most of the time.

    There was also something a little amusing about watching someone I admire have an involved interaction with someone they admire – I wonder if you made a comic about meeting him… (And thanks for accepting mine!)

    I hope everyone who couldn’t make the talk will get the chance to hear it, too. Thanks so much for coming to London!

  9. lea says:

    geek! (the light table)

  10. 'Ff'lo says:

    Definite podcast interest here. The ongoing story of the story of the book and the story. Nothing being, after all, just one thing. :)

  11. Daniela says:

    Beautiful woman! I love you from argentina!

  12. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Hey! Our Girl’s memoir about her mum just made the NYTimes’ list of 100 notable books for 2012! If I were half the woman I think I am, I’d have included the link, but I’m not. Eh bien, tant pis.