Back from the Desert

June 11th, 2007 | Uncategorized

changing hands

Here I am after my reading at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe last Friday night. See the swell t-shirt they gave me? Look! You can get one too. I don’t normally plug things here, but I have a special fondness for this design since my memoir Fun Home is partly about how my parents were like fictional characters to me. Besides which, Changing Hands was an excellent bookstore. In fact, it’s the 2007 Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year. There was a very nice, engaged crowd there who pelted me with challenging questions.

Arizona was hot and dry. I got to go swimming at the hotel pool. It was unnervingly pleasurable.

One Response to “Back from the Desert”

  1. g-lo says:

    Comment restore:


    1. Sir Real Says:
    June 11th, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Speaking of fiction –

    I’ve been wondering about the Fun Home conversations that occured when you, AB, were not yourself present… how much invention and extrapolation did you employ?

    Might your mother’ve reported on conversations before your birth? I wondered about such dialouges as the car-bound arguement in France, wherein she almost leaves… but doesn’t. (that was one of the examples in your NYC lecture of a photo-posture wherein you portrayed a parent)

    Had you even a second hand recounting of, say, conversations in your father’s barracks. ? I recall a brawny soldier depicted as telling your dad that a photo of F. Scott Fitzgerald is “even prettier n’ you”. That seems a sort of fantasically out of place in the 1950s… or perhaps not. Part of the long (and to me, amazing) history of how men have found sex with each other, perhaps – and concealable under the pretext of homophobic joshing – while testing out the actual waters of desire through the gaze. ?

    If you invented dialouge in places did you find that more, or less difficult to illustrate than the stretches (if any) of direct reportage?

    Ardent thanks again. 🙂

    2. tallie Says:
    June 11th, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    that shirt is AMAZING.

    3. Cheryl Says:
    June 11th, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Sir Real’s questions are of interest to me also.

    4. Alison Bechdel Says:
    June 11th, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    Some conversations in the book were indeed based on information my mother had related to me over the years. But she did this thinking it was in confidence, and the fact that I ended up putting it in a book has done some damage to our relationship. Once she knew I was writing about my dad, she cut me off from further information about him. But in a way that was a good thing for me as a writer. Instead of relying on the journalistic, memoir-writing part of my brain, I had to resort to the imaginative, fiction-writing part for some stretches of the book. Like the scene with my dad in the army barracks–I totally made that up. I was just speculating that he got some shit from the other guys for being bookish and concerned with his appearance.

    5. Tera Says:
    June 11th, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    Very cool shirt indeed!

    6. clara_lemlich Says:
    June 11th, 2007 at 11:20 pm

    can’t help but notice the Sherman Alexie Flight publicity in the background. just finished it. pretty amazing. so, since Alison’s plugging tee shirts, i thought i’d mention this novel. only second to Fun Home for my favorite recent read.

    7. Duncan Says:
    June 12th, 2007 at 12:38 am

    I liked Flight too, but I’d rate Emma Donoghue’s new fiction — a collection of stories called Touchy Subjects, and a brand new novel called Landing — as high in their own way. Donoghue is one of my favorite contemporary writers. (I also read Neil Bartlett’s new novel, Skin Lane, but found it frustrating though very well written:

    8. kate Says:
    June 12th, 2007 at 9:32 am

    pelted you? i hope it didn’t hurt

    damage to your relationship with your mom? i thought she might be over this by now. she seems like such an open, caring sort of a mom–i hate to think that you’ve lost some of that with her. when i think of fun home, i’ve never thought of it as some sort of tool to hurt your family à la mommie dearest. i took it as your own account of the world you grew up, the one that shaped you and made you who you are. in any case, i hope whatever part was lost of your relationship with your mom can be found again.

    unnervingly pleasurable–that sounds very nice.

    9. Eva Says:
    June 12th, 2007 at 10:07 am

    Duncan, the link you posted isn’t working. 🙁

    10. cranky librarian Says:
    June 12th, 2007 at 11:11 am

    just leave off the colon at the end.

    11. Duncan Says:
    June 12th, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Sorry, Eva — cranky librarian is right, I somehow got a colon stuck on it. It should be

    Later last night I learned that Nicola Griffith’s latest Aud Torvingen novel, Always, has finally been published. I snagged it at the public library today. And Armistead Maupin’s Michael Tolliver Lives was published today. I have a copy fresh from my local independent bookstore as I type. All this will keep me reading happily for a few days.

    12. Sir Real Says:
    June 12th, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for the explication, part of what I love about your having a blog. Yay!

    Hmmm! Perhaps my own imaginative extrapolations are too active – I totally assumed that Bruce Bechdel and the brawny bunk-neighbor found a way to hook up! Oh, that’s right, later there’s mention of a fellow soldier and he as lovers – so maybe. 🙂

    Also, I wonder if you found it more difficult to write lines for fictional characters, or for your family members?

    13. Aunt Soozie Says:
    June 12th, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    I love that shirt…gotta get one.
    And unnervingly pleasurable?
    …a true Bechdelism if I ever heard one.

    14. D.F. Says:
    June 13th, 2007 at 12:14 am

    omg that t-shirt is scary real on you — even held up — talk about blurring the distinction btn. fiction & life… that pic on the blog is the most concrete deconstruction of that line, just blows it up, or rather, disperses it into (im)pure fog … i’m trippin’ …

    p.s. thnx for the new episode! what a treat to the end of a long day … i’m heading to it now…

    15. rhetorical crush Says:
    June 14th, 2007 at 1:57 am

    i fell in love with you at changing hands, i think. or shortly thereafter, reading.
    but just a little, i promise.