Archive for June, 2006

Thanks for all the spam advice

June 30th, 2006

But I think I’ve got things under control now.

Fuck. Me.

June 29th, 2006

Okay. I sorted out the email problem. Now I’m sorting out the email. Jeeziz! There were 533 messages sitting there. It’s extremely confusing trying to figure out which ones are spam and which ones are legit. See above. The first “congratulations” is real. The second one is not. And “Don’t expose your intimate life!” is probably good advice for anyone who’s just published a memoir about their family, but it turned out to be a Cialis pitch.

There’s stuff here from childhood friends, relatives, people I went to high school with, people who’ve been to my readings, people who want to interview me…I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. Especially considering that I lost control of my personal, non-website inbox some time ago. I guess all this is to say, please be patient if you don’t hear right back from me. I’m on the job.

Uh…if you’ve been trying to email me through this site…

June 29th, 2006

I just found out that people are getting “mail delivery returned” messages after emailing me at I’m really sorry about that, and am trying to get to the bottom of it. I guess when we moved over to this new site from the old one, we didn’t set up that address to forward mail to me like it used to.

The really scary thing is that there must be a frickin’ huge pile of messages there that I haven’t been getting for over a month. Apologies to everyone who’s written to me and not heard back. And I’ll try to get this fixed immediately.

Cartoonist-to-cartoonist interview with Craig Thompson

June 27th, 2006

When I was in Portland earlier this month, Powell’s Books set up a conversation between me and Craig Thompson. Craig’s beautiful graphic novel Blankets crossed over and got a lot of mainstream readers when it came out in 2003. He lives in Portland, and both our books are about growing up in small towns with, um, kind of dysfunctional families. So Powell’s thought we’d have an interesting conversation together, and indeed we did. Although perhaps we both overdid the self-deprecation a tad.

Author to author interview with Jessica Abel

June 27th, 2006

I recently did this interview on the literary site with Jessica Abel. We talked about my memoir Fun Home and her recent graphic novel La Perdida.

A person could get used to this

June 26th, 2006

Fun Home got another great review in today’s NY Times, by George Gene Gustines. It’s also a great review for graphic narrative in general.

Throughout the memoir…the magic of the graphic format emerges. Ms. Bechdel’s qualms, trepidation and excitement emerge from the words and images working together. Somehow adding the two ingredients together conveys more than either one could do alone.

Planes, trains, automobiles and dissonance, or, The Complicity Polka

June 25th, 2006

I’ve gotten kind of addicted to blogging all my daily activities. I’ll stop now that I’m home and have no life again, but first I wanted to say a few things about what it was like ending my book tour yesterday.

I began this trip on airplanes, flying to the west coast and back. Then I switched to trains on the east coast. Then yesterday in Boston I rented a car for the last leg. It turned out to be a big honkin’ SUV. And it was really fun to drive. At last I understand.

My objective was Northampton, MA, where I had to give a reading at 4pm. But I decided to take a slight detour to the new Ikea in a suburb south of Boston. I needed to get some plates and silverware, and I knew that was sort of crazy since I’d never been there before and I only had a half-hour to spare and Ikea is an all-day venture at best. But I was all hopped up and feeling omnipotent in my giant vehicle, so I went for it. On the way I listened to a horrific radio program about what’s going on in the Congo. Normally I just can’t compute the news from Africa, it’s so brutal and baffling. But this reporter, Johann Hari, put things into lucid context.

It’s not some kind of inexplicable tribal violence. It’s simply global corporations at work, doing what corporations do–mining resources as cheaply as they can. Hari talked in particular about the diamond trade, and the terrible violence that stems from it so that westerners can have engagement rings. “At least I don’t have any diamonds,” I thought idly to myself as I barrelled along in my SUV. I’ve never understood why people invest diamonds with so much power. They’re gaudy, ugly things.

The trick of capitalism is the way it obliterates the trail of cause and effect. The news from Africa is baffling precisely because it refuses to connect the dots. And who wants to connect them anyway, when going to Ikea is so much more pleasant? And then there I was, with thousands of other SUVs, pouring into the sprawling parking lot.

As an aside, I must say that I made perhaps the quickest and most efficient visit to an Ikea ever in the history of the world, somehow navigating the vast, unfamiliar terrain, not getting distracted by all the alluring objects but homing right in on my plates and a box of silverware, using the auto-check out system and getting back to my rig in half an hour flat.


Still, it was disconcerting to find myself so caught up in this manic consumption fest. Back on the road, I was playing with the radio in the truck. There were controls for it on the steering wheel, in case it was too much of a strain to reach out and operate it from the dashboard. All of a sudden I came upon a song which was the perfect soundtrack for the moment. I grabbed my camera and attempted to capture the insane dissonance of it all in a brief movie. I still haven’t figured out how to embed videos here, so if you want to see it you have to click here and watch it on YouTube.

Later that afternoon, after my reading in Northampton, I had dinner with my aunt and uncle. I mentioned in my last post that my Aunt Mary gave me a pair of cufflinks. It was a very thoughtful gift, an implicit reference to a scene in my book where I talk about my cross-dressing tendencies, in particular my fixation with cufflinks.

But I didn’t mention that each cufflink sports a tiny diamond.

Broadside Books, Northampton MA

June 25th, 2006

Broadside Books, Northampton MA

Yesterday I finished the first leg of my Fun Home tour with this charming crowd in Northampton. As happened in Philadelphia, I spotted more relatives in the audience just before the reading began. This time it was my mom’s sister Mary and my Uncle Ed. They were very sweet to me. Ed gave me a copy of Son of Oscar Wilde, Vyvyan Holland’s memoir of his father. And Mary gave me a handsome pair of cufflinks. Apparently I should write intimate, tell-all memoirs about my family more often.

Center for New Words, Boston

June 24th, 2006

Center for New Words reading 2

Tonight the Center for New Words hosted a Fun Home reading at Simmons College in Boston. It was hot and steamy, and there was some kind of electrical situation in the original location. But the CNW and Simmons women quickly found another place. A sweaty but lovely dykestowatchoutforesque audience showed up, and I had a great time.

colorful crowd, Center for New Words

I love this photo. It’s so colorful. It’s like an Old Navy ad targeted at progressive intellectuals.

Toast Failure

June 24th, 2006

I am SO, SO sorry to anyone who showed up at the Toast Lounge in Somerville tonight expecting to see me there. I was supposed to come by and hang out after the reading I did at Simmons College for the Center for New Words, from 9 to 10. But my driver and I couldn’t find the place! And didn’t have a map! Or a phone number. I even got out on the street in Union Square and walked around asking people where Toast was, to no avail. Anyhow. I just got back to the hotel after being in the car for over an hour. And I’m terribly sorry and frustrated about the whole fiasco.