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true tales of the almost self

proust allusion, arabian nights


“I have suggested my father killed himself, but it’s just as accurate to say that he died gardening.”
–Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Houghton Mifflin, 2006.


 

Bechdel’s father was gay at the wrong time in the wrong place and so he stayed in the closet and lived a secret and possibly criminal life. Then he was hit by a truck when Bechtel was 20. Died. She suspected it was suicide. But as she admits, it might have been an accident.

The past is defensive and sluggish, sludge-like, slutty, muttonish, muggy, morbid, maudlin, haunted, hunted, heavy and just plain hostile. The past is gone.

There’s this realness to right now that makes it a lot nicer. On the other hand, Alison Bechdel was born and raised and wrote a book. And the nineteen seventies definitely happened. (People wore tube socks.) So it’s hard to pretend that right now is all there is. But it’s not that hard.

Memoirists spend time in the past. This is their stock and trade. They live back there.

Take me along. Don’t leave me.

And so all those French fried, postmodern, semiotic theories about the death of the author and the slippery nature of all narratives, the impossibility of static truth in language, got buried under an avalanche of bestselling baby boomer memoirs.

Take me along. Don’t leave me.

 

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