The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, by Alison Bechdel

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Five stars, read in July 2014.

For the first 50 pages it seemed like I wasn’t making any progress—it’s one of those books that looks longer than it is, so you feel like it will never end. Once I got to the last hundred or so pages, I was hoping it never would.

It’s funny, really, because several of the characters were infinitely annoying to me, but I just didn’t want to leave that world. I know most of the comic is compiled in this volume, but my first thought when I finished was that I want to find and read the whole strip somehow, all twenty years of it.

The origin of the Bechdel test, this comic is a major piece of lesbian pop culture. For someone like me—someone who was born in white straight conservative Christian America, became an ultra-liberal possibly even socialist feminist atheist, but is still stuck in aforementioned white straight conservative Christian America due to oppressive student loan debt which prevents any kind of risky, spontaneous, or fulfilling life decisions—it’s a window to the world I wish I could live in.

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The politics in the earlier years were a little overwhelming to me, because I wasn’t aware or paying attention to them in the late ’80s and ’90s when they happened, so I was trying to follow very detailed conversations and learn what they were talking about at the same time. It was completely fascinating. And even though half the time I wanted to slap Mo and tell her to snap out of it, in truth, I’m a lot like her—which is humbling, frustrating, and comforting all at once. This is an excellent comic that I’d like to read again soon.

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