Are You My Mother? Tour

April 27th, 2012 | Uncategorized


Here’s the current window display at 57th Street Books in Chicago. (Thank you, Hannah!)

And here is a picture of dinner in New York last week following the Publishing Triangle Awards, at which my amazing erstwhile publisher Nancy Bereano, of Firebrand Books, presented me with the Bill Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award.


That’s Nancy on the left. My lovely girlfriend Holly Rae Taylor on the right. My friend Sarah Van Arsdale next to Holly. (go to Sarah’s blog for an illustration of the awards ceremony) And in the background, the poet David Groff and his partner Clay Williams, and the novelist Sion Dayson.

Are You My Mother? has been getting some very good press. Here’s an interview with the redoubtable Maud Newton on the Barnes & Noble website. And a very wonderful review in Entertainment Weekly.

I’m starting off on an intense book tour next week, a city a day. Unfortunately it launches on May Day in NYC, when Occupy Wall Street is calling for a general strike. But if you’re not busy blockading the Manhattan Bridge or the Holland Tunnel, and/or you get out of jail early, come on up to Bunns and Noodle.

Here’s the tour schedule. Please come to a reading!

Are You My Mother? book tour, May 2012

Tuesday May 1, New York City
Barnes & Noble, 7pm
2289 Broadway @ 82nd St.

Wednesday May 2, Cambridge
The Brattle Theatre, 6pm
40 Brattle Street
Sponsored by the Harvard Bookstore

Thursday May 3, Philadelphia
Free Library of Philadelphia, 7:30
1901 Vine St.

Friday May 4, Washington, DC
Politics & Prose, 7pm
5015 Connecticut Ave NW

Saturday May 5, Toronto
Toronto Comic Arts Festival

Sunday May 6, St Louis
Left Bank Books, 4pm
321 N. 10th St.

Monday May 7, Milwaukee
Boswell Book Co., 7pm
2559 N. Downer Ave

Tuesday May 8, Berkeley
Books Inc, 7pm
1760 Fourth Street

Wednesday May 9, San Francisco
The Booksmith, 7:30
1644 Haight Street

Thursday May 10, Los Angeles
Los Angeles Public Library, 7pm
Format: On-stage interview with Deborah Vankin
Mark Taper Auditorium—Central Library
630 W. Fifth Street

Friday May 11, Seattle
University Bookstore, 7pm
4326 University Way NE

Saturday May 12, Portland
The Bagdad Theater, 5pm
3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Sponsored by Powell’s

Wednesday May 16, Chicago
Swedish American Museum, 7:30pm
5211 N. Clark St.
Sponsored by Women and Children First Bookstore

75 Responses to “Are You My Mother? Tour”

  1. Kate L says:

    What, your agent forgot to book a stop in Smallville??? Just kidding. Let’s all be there! At one time, or another… 🙂

    Myself, I just signed up to attend Moo U’s first Lavender Graduation ceremony in May. Oh, yeah, I’m family…

  2. V says:

    You’re coming to Toronto! Awesome! Adding it to my calendar and telling everyone I know now.

  3. hairball_of_hope says:


    What a crazy schedule you’re pushing for the book tour. Sounds like the publisher is really promoting the book. Hooray! Perhaps the massive push is designed to inspire impulse purchases in advance of Mother’s Day? No doubt, there will be a bunch of radio and press interviews along the way, please let us know who/when is interviewing/airing/publishing.

    I picked up my copies of AYMM from Three Lives yesterday; one will be a gift, so the timing of your Bunns & Noodle reading is perfect.

    I’ve been staring at the dinner photo and trying to figure out what restaurant you’re in. It looks vaguely familiar, but I can’t place it. It sort of looks like French Roast Café on 6th Ave and W. 12th, or that place on 7th and W. 16th (current name escapes me, it used to be Raoul’s), but there aren’t enough lighting and details in the photo to be sure.

    (… goes back to her AB countdown as she ducks out the door for lunch …)

  4. grrljock says:

    Awww, my local bookstore in Oakland told me that you’d make an in-store appearance, yet it’s not on your schedule. I hope that means that you’ll have a second wave of the book tour!

  5. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    OMG, the Maud Newton interview was agonizing to read. She really really gets you! It is really hard for me to imagine your process, and that interview makes it even more agonizing to imagine.

    I’ve read the book three times now, and I keep going back to my own mother and the distance she kept and keeps from her children. Now that she’s living with dementia, she acts like she wants so much more from us, and yet it’s hard to imagine giving when there are so many years of disinterest and detachment hanging around. I really admire your ability to heal and to have a living relationship with your mother. I salute you both!

  6. Heartbreak! The Los Angeles Library appearance is already full! 🙁 🙁 Well, good luck on your whirlwind tour! I hope it goes wonderfully.

  7. DianaMlvz says:

    See you in L.A. Alison! Groovy…

  8. hairball_of_hope says:


    Shame your schedule is so tight, the PEN World Voices conclave is in NYC next week.

    Marjane Satrapi will be on tap with the Kronos Quartet at the Metropolitan Museum on Wednesday 5/2. Looks like PEN has finally acknowledged the existence of graphic writers.

    (… goes back to finishing out another week of drudgery in the mines …)

  9. Diana says:

    Very sad you’re not stopping at Amazon in Minneapolis, but I get it, touring is exhausting and must be done strategically.
    I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I’m using Are You My Mother? as one of the core texts in my Fall Graphic Novel class.

  10. shadocat says:

    Kate L.;

    Yeah, I was hoping against hope for a stop in Kansas City…and St.Louis is the closest out here in flyover country, but that’s about 600 miles away…

  11. shadocat says:

    maybe when it’s out in paperback they’ll be a Tour II?

  12. megan says:

    @Diana Amazon in Minneapolis no longer exists, sadly. We sold it several years ago and the new owners shut down this year. Still bummed Minneapolis isn’t on the tour, though.

  13. Alex K says:

    Tuesday, May 8. Do you think that you can still get a table at Chez Panisse for the second sitting? Worth a try.


    “Substantive yet essentially distant.”

    “She’s not factoring me in.”

    And my breath caught, a little half-sob, as I read that.

    When will I, how can I, ever be everything to my mother as she has always been everything to me?

  14. freyakat says:

    @Hairball #8: “Marjane Satrapi in Conversation with Francoise Mouly” followed by a screening of “Chicken With Plums” will be at MoMA at 8 PM on
    Thursday 3 May.

  15. Alex K says:

    Query to those who have been lucky enough to read RUMM —

    do you think that it can be best read (fully read, comprehendingly / comprehensively read) without having read FUN HOME first?

  16. NLC says:


    In a word, yes.
    Obviously by their nature the books necessarily have significant overlaps (in time, experiences, etc). But neither is a pre/sequel to the other; each stands fully on its own.

    (Of course, that’s not to say that there’s nothing to be gained from reading both books. For example, one of the things I find fascinating about reading RUMM is how a given incident, previously discussed in FH is viewed from a different perspective –almost like a solo-Rashomon. The experience certainly gives a “fuller” view. But, finally, each book is its own consistent creature. [imnsho])

  17. Andrew B says:

    Wow, what a crazy crazy schedule — a real wake up and can’t remember what city you’re in schedule. Alison, I hope you’re planning enough connections with people who matter to you to keep your head from spinning completely off your shoulders.

    The Boston appearance is also sold out (see Annie, 6, re LA). R2A, hope you got tickets. People who are going to non-ticketed events probably want to arrive early.

    Alex K, 16, I partly agree with NLC. AYMM stands on its own. You needn’t have read FH. But I think it’s more powerful as a sequel. Two specific examples: when Alison and her mother come up with the line from Importance of Being Earnest (p. 241), it’s more moving if you remember them running lines in FH; and the “cripple” game in AYMM (p.287) is visually reminiscent of the airplane game from FH.

    I don’t think AYMM deepens FH, although it does complicate it. For me at least, AYMM doesn’t change any of the things that really mattered in FH.

    Alex K, what do you think? Why did you ask? Obviously you have already read FH and you’re going to read AYMM, so that’s the sequence for you no matter what the rest of us say.

  18. Jain says:

    Nice review in the Times. I cried at the end.

  19. Kate L says:

    shadocat (#11) 600 miles from St. Louis? Hmmm… you may be in proximity to Smallville and Moo U! We may have seen each other, and not know it! 🙂

    hairball… did you see any space shuttles fly over Gotham yesterday?

  20. Lines says:

    will be at the phila library for sure this thursday! have been re-enjoying dykes recently-excited to read your next! will you be selling copies there?

  21. Kate L says:

    The neutral Xi_b^star baryon has been discovered at the Big Bang Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland (appropriately enough)! Quick… someone call Sheldon Cooper!

  22. Natalie Davis says:

    Just read the new book.


    The success is well-deserved.

    Make sure you get some rest! xo

    Natalie from Baltimore, now in Joisey…

  23. Kate L says:

    When I was a child, I talked my mother into making me a Flash superhero costume. Imagine my surprise when recently, while watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory, who should show up wearing a Flash superhero costume than… Sheldon Cooper. Have you noticed – you’ve never seen Sheldon Cooper and I in the same room together? Well, have you??? And, we both wear argyl socks. Eerie. :0

  24. Ready2Agitate says:

    Thx, Andrew #18 – indeed the Brattle Theatre appearance next Wed. 5/8 in Cambridge, MA is sold out. I found out the hard way 🙁

  25. Alex K says:

    @#18 / Andrew B: Yes, the FUN HOME – RUMM sequence is indeed the one that linearity has imposed on me. (Damn this right-brained universe!)

    “What do you think? Why did you ask?” Shortly before posting my query I spoke by telephone with friends who read the recent NEW YORKER profile of AB. They have not read FUN HOME and were intrigued by both books but, for reasons of their own, more so by RUMM. They wondered if RUMM should be picked up after FUN HOME. Not having read RUMM, I could offer no opinion.

    Another two books that already have entered the canon of American literature — as FUN HOME and RUMM yet may do — come to mind. I believe that they are seen as a diptych, and that the earlier stands alone whilst the latter self-acknowledgedly depends upon the former.

    “You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly — Tom’s Aunt Polly, she is — and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.”

    (What does Twain mean with “That is nothing”? Odd.)

    That jumble of names without referents! Calculated to send the reader off to TOM SAWYER, it seems to me, and underscoring the express warning with which HUCKLEBERRY FINN begins. Twain wanted his readers of HF to be familiar with TS. Perhaps AB wants her readers of RUMM to be familiar with FUN HOME. I can’t say.

    So… Might even FUN HOME have opened with “You don’t know about me without you have read a comic by the name of DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR”?

  26. Alex K says:

    @#17 / NLC: Thanks. I’ll take that back to my friends (see post immediately above), with #18’s comment that the latter book plays to some extent upon the former.

  27. Diana says:

    Very sad to discover through this topic that True Colors (nee Amazon) closed two months ago. I patronized them whenever I could, but moving to the ‘burbs limited my options. Ah well, we still have Magers & Quinn, I guess.

  28. Calico says:

    Ms. Bechdel, I think you have joined the ranks of (writer and teacher) Frank McCourt and the like. Kudos again.

  29. makky says:

    My God, the NYTs review. It’s off the charts, no?

  30. Kate L says:

    Hey, all, that Maud Newton interview hit the electronic pages of Salon today, complete with that great photo of A.B.! Question: was that one of those photos where they make you pose by twisting yourself in half to face the camera while turning your body away?

  31. Kate L says:

    Perhaps instead of your mother not factoring you in, perhaps she just accepts you as always being part of her life?

  32. Jamie says:

    I recently learned about your work from the New Yorker profile, just finished reading Fun Home, and am very much looking forward to attend your reading at the May Day reading in NYC.

    One freshly minted, big, big fan of yours. See you Tuesday!

  33. Susanna says:

    Congratulations from Berlin, AB!! I got your book new book on friday and spent the entire weekend reading. It broke my heart reading and seeing how hard you try to get your mother to forgive you for who you are. Concerning your constant feeling that you are your mother’s mother: Does anyone else here share my feeling that “lover” might be the more appropriate word? That your mother displays a textbook case of what Carol calls a “reaction formation”?

  34. Renee S. says:

    Still lurking. Wish I could make one of the book tour stops!

  35. Jaibe says:

    Sorry I haven’t been keeping up if this has been said before, but is anyone putting your book next to the Christopher Eccelston Doctor Who “Mummy! Mummy! Are YOU my mummy???” I can’t help hearing that every time I see something about your book!

  36. I had pre-ordered Are You My Mother and it came in the mail 3 days ago. Joy! I picked it up around 9pm, I must say with some trepidation: would it be as good as Fun Home?… when I finished reading, it was 3:33 am, no kidding. I just could not put it down until the very end.
    As most of us do, I have a difficult relationship with my mother and reading your book has been nothing less than a cathartic experience. Especially the part about what a “good-enough” mother is, and isn’t. About what happens when the child’s spontaneous expressions are not met.
    So. Huge thanks and congrats, for both this amazing work and your Guggenheim grant.

  37. Kate L says:

    Jaibe (#37) There, there… just keep repeating to yourself, “The quick, tin K-9 jumped over the lazy old Doctor”, and you’ll stop hearing subliminal messages from the TARDIS in no time!

    Renee S. (#36) Ha! There you are! 🙂

  38. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Just saw a copy of AYMM at the Harvard Coop in Harvard Square on the front table as you walk in. Not bad — that’s where I saw Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table last time I was in the Coop. No pictures, but lots of conversation.

  39. AuntSoozie says:

    Got the new book last night. Started reading late. Tried to be reasonable and put it down, go to sleep after three chapters. Unsuccessful. Picked it back up and read the whole thing. Went to sleep at 4am. It’s wonderful!! Can’t wait to hear Alison present in Philadelphia on Thursday night!! Planning on bumping into our dear Dr E. Hope to see some of the rest of youse!

  40. Alex K says:

    Whoooo!!! 43 in books, Amazon! Hurray AB!!!

  41. Anna in Albuquerque says:

    36 now. I just got mine today and put it away on the shelf for tomorrow. I will not break my rule about starting a new book in the evening, I will not break my rule about….

  42. NLC says:

    A quick glance at Google-news shows that the reviews for RUMM are coming out of the woodwork.

    A couple notes:

    1] Virtually every review I ever read of FH contained some variation of the sentence “…author of the long running strip Dykes To Watch Out For…” OTOH, I’ve noticed that many of these new reviews don’t mention DTWOF at all.

    Of course, I have no idea how AB feels about this, but –for what is, after all a book-review– my first reaction is that this is a good sign.

    2] While all the reviews of RUMM that have been (at the very least) favorable, I notice that the review on the NPR website is titled “‘Mother’ Dearest” (Click [HERE])

    Again, I obviously have no way of knowning how AB feels about this; but the title seems, well “unfortunate”.

  43. DeLand DeLakes says:

    I regret very much that you won’t be coming to Minneapolis, and that we no longer have a feminist book store to host you. 🙁

  44. cybercita says:

    I was at the May Day NYC reading this evening {Alison, that was me that said hello and gave you a quick hug on the fly before you started signing}. It was lovely!

  45. Amy says:

    Grr!!! I can’t believe I missed NYC, and it was today!!!

  46. hairball_of_hope says:

    Tonight’s reading at Bunns & Noodle was very well-attended, about 200 people showed up. They ran out of books to sell for signing, so if you are planning on attending a reading with the intent of getting a signed copy, I suggest you buy your copies of AYMM in advance.


    The word I couldn’t remember is trichobezoar.

    (… goes back to admiring AB’s drawing of a trichobezoar in her signed copy …)

  47. Beth says:

    Wowza, the NY Times review is *amazing*…can’t wait to get my hands on RUMM! But no stop in Northampton, Mass?! That must be in Phase II, right? @ Kate L…Moo U–are you in Ames? I’m moving to fly-over country this summer…

  48. Heather says:

    Alison, we would love to have you in Asheville, NC.

  49. Anja says:

    Ms Bechdel, I spent the whole day with you today, since the postman woke me up at 8:08 finally delivering the book.
    And what a day it was! All I’ll say is: thanks for writing it (I think it is better than Fun Home). And sincere congratulations.
    Enjoy your success, you totally deserve it!
    Greetings from Brussels.

  50. Andrea says:

    Don’t forget the wonderful review by the New York Times!

    or NPR:

    Congratulations. I could not put the book down, I read it in less than 24 hrs 🙂

  51. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    There is a phenomenal review of AYMM in Time magazine that a chum just sent me. Let me see if I can figure out how to put it in:

    here it is!

  52. David in Cambridge says:

    The talk in Cambridge was awesome. I confess I thought AB had gone a little off the deep end in AYMM with all the self-referentiality and psycho-jargon and angst, but the talk was engaging and funny and made me want to reread the book through a different mental lens.

    Answering a question about doing more strip-type comics, AB pointed out the dubious economics of alt-weeklies and web comics — does that still apply here? I imagine AB could now create short- or long-form strips at her own pace, and publish them when she feels like it, and sell them for a reasonable return.

    Wishful thinking on my part? Sure! But it’s not just wishful thinking, is it?

    Thanks AB, and good luck with the city-a-day odyssey.

  53. Alex K says:

    @T&SJ / 55: No good for those of us without a subscription to TIME. Not that I encourage anyone to cut-and-paste large blocks of text in frank violation of copyright law, but…

  54. Alex K says:

    Should I be cutting and pasting this, as a large block of text? Hmmmm.

    Today’s NYTIMES review (Click Here!) is less sympathetic to RUMM than was Sunday’s. If you come to Book B expecting a reprise of Book A, you may be disappointed.

    Or, perhaps, Marmite. Some like it, some don’t.

  55. Eva says:

    @ #57: Yeah, well, Dwight Garner can go play in someone else’s sandbox if he doesn’t like it here. Pfffft.

  56. Calico says:

    I love my Mom and we have always been very close -maybe too close, partially because of an alcoholic husband/father, a writer incidentally(who was thankfully sober and in the Program for 20 yrs. until he passed in ’97).
    We’ve both been working on codependency issues over the last 9 months or so, and there have been some nice changes in our dynamic. I don’t feel so stressed and worried anymore (esp. considering she had a double bypass and valve replacement in 2007, and was in hospital in NYC for a month, with me there the whole time). I’m trying to let things go a bit more. : )

  57. NLC says:

    If folks haven’t seen it [HERE’s] a link to Marty Moss-Coane’s interview on WHYY in Philadelphia.

  58. Kate L says:

    Beth (#50) Is Moo U in Ames? I wish! We’re a few hours west on the interstate, in redder territory. 🙁

    Those of us who have dedicated their lives to art and the humanities contribute to the sum total experience of all of us. On the other hand, those of us in the physical and natural sciences do things like launching rubber chickens on weather ballons. No actual chickens were involved in this webcam – documented visit to the upper atmosphere. Next to travel to 120,000 feet? Action figures of Picard and Kirk! 🙂

  59. NLC says:


    AB in the Wall Street Journal ([HERE])

    Who’d a thunk it…

  60. Andrew B says:

    NLC, 60, your link got et. I think this was it?

  61. Kate L says:

    The subject of being kissed or not by your mother really hit a nerve with me. My mother was not in the habit of kissing me, but she did so on the morning of the day she died, after fixing me breakfast and then sitting at the table watching me intently (and in total silence) as I ate what she had made before I left that morning to go back to university. Looking back on this after 24 years, I think that as a nurse she knew her cardiac arrhythmia was going to get her, and soon.

  62. […] out, each from an artist I think is amazing: “My Friend Dahmer,” by John Backderf, and “Are You My Mother?” by Alison Bechdel. Each draws or used to draw a weekly comic strip. Backderf’s is “The City,” a […]

  63. Toni Smith says:

    So sad we will not be seeing you in Salt Lake City during your tour. We are the gayest city in the country and as so would LOVE to have you stop by. We have some charming independent bookstores (Ken Sander’s Rare Books is my favorite)if you decide you have a spare moment sometime in the next decade. Can’t wait to get my hands on the new book!

  64. Samuel says:

    Super pumped to see you tomorrow at TCAF in Toronto 😀

  65. Alice Molloy says:

    NYT reviewer Dwight Garner for some unknown reason took it upon himself to review “Are You My Mother?” Poor boy was disappointed that there was no ‘mommie dearest’ scene. The whole review is obnoxious. Stupid person DG should never ever be allowed to review books about mothers and daughters, or even read them.

  66. Then again says:

    Dwight Garner is a pretty good and fair reviewer actually, as regular NYT readers may agree. Based on his review, I think it’s fair to say he would have liked more of a comic-style narrative rather than an illustrated meditation. But that’s a question of differing tastes, not sexism. Graphic novels-nonfictions are still evolving as an art form, and there is a big difference between the slow and fast-paced among them.

    It’s pretty neat that AB got a review in both the daily and the Sunday book review sections. If you look at the books that rate double reviews, the NYT tends to skew pretty male, so this is good for balance. Go Alison!

  67. virago says:

    Garner liked Fun Home and The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For. I was pumped when he reviewed The Essential DTWOF for the NYT [LINK HERE].

    He mentions Fun Home early on in the Essential review:

    “Her memoir, about coming of age as a lesbian in her secret-filled family’s rural Pennsylvania funeral home, was moody, astringent, microscopically observed. Fun Home belongs on that same small, high shelf of comic books where Maus dwells.”

    About Essential itself, he says:

    “Ms. Bechdel began her strips all those years ago, she writes here, partly to provide ‘an antidote’ to the culture’s image of gay women as ‘warped, sick, humorless and undesirable.’ Boy, has she succeeded. Her crazy lesbians seem saner than the rest of us, and beyond beautiful.”

  68. virago says:

    P.S. John Hogan of Graphic Novel Reporter interviews AB here.

  69. Teri says:

    I cannot BELIEVE I missed you in D.C. Are you adding more dates? I’m in Richmond, VA and I hope you are coming somewhere where I can see you!!! Have a great tour. I LOVE your work.

  70. Janell Moon says:

    Your reading and slide show at Booksmith was a real treat, Alison. It was the first time I saw you in person and you handled yourself well: open and warm and knowledgeable.

    I talked to you for a second as I purchased your book and mentioned that when you said your book was about subjectivity, I immediately thought of identity. I thought I recognized a wavering self
    that comes from attachment issues with both mom and dad. Attachment to creative expression often is a great help along with therapy. (I’m speaking from my own life.) The enneagram of personality was very helpful too. Point #4, the artist, was amazing.

    I can’t tell you have significant your work has been to bring a depth of “being” to the graphic novel world. It’s brilliant and you are quite the
    talent. I agreed with everything the New Yorker article said about you.

    Best, Janell

  71. Janell Moon says:

    You were brilliant in San Francisco at Book Smith with your slide show and reading. The book felt to me about a wavering sense of self from poor attachment to mom and dad. Basically it felt like it was about identity and how you deal with identity issues through creativity,expression, and therapy. An aware life of meaning.
    The enneagram point #4 talks of this.
    You were quite warm and open and the crowd responded. Fun House was wonderful. I have just started Who is My Mother? (Who am I?). I resonate to you feeling like we have some of the same issues. Best to you and your fine work.

  72. bybee says:

    I’m on my second reading in almost as many days of Are You My Mother? I simply can’t leave it alone.

    I wish you could do a book tour in Asia. South Korea, in particular. Not practical, but that doesn’t stop my wishing.