Author Archives: Joe Blasioli

The Illustrated Memior

Learning that Alison Bechdel took 7 years to complete her graphic memoir Fun Home was important when it came to the interpretation of the illustrations. It is reported that Bechdel spent so much time on this project because she posed for each scene, photographed herself, and then drew the scene from said photo. Because of this, the reader can infer that none of her panels where made haphazardly. In fact, they’re very accurate to the imagery Bechtel intended to convey.

Alison Bechdel is afforded more literary freedom through the use of illustration. She seamlessly jumps between time periods because with the aid of theses pictures the reader is not left wondering whats going on. It is due to the use of illustration that she is able to easily maneuver through themes such as father-daughter relationship, lgbtq+, feminism, and appearance vs reality.

On a different note, upon applying the critical lens of knowledge and power from Interdiciplinarity by Joe Moran, one could do a close reading of the power hierarchy in Bechdel’s house. A close reading of this fashion would reveal the exploitation of personal power by Alison’s father as he courts teenage boys or punishes his children for interfering with the perfection of his house.

Bechdels graphic novel is unique in its structure due to the use of illustrations. Though the use of these illustrations Bechdel almost rubs her imagery in the readers face saying “look at this, this is how I remember it looking”. And it is through these illustration that Bechdel honors the art of memoir. There is hardly a better way to memoir because with pictures it becomes a lot harder to forget how things looked tasted and felt at the time.

☢ Fools Gold ☢

“So if it’s a touch of reality that isn’t pretty, then we want to get rid of it”

– Senator Dina Titus (D-NV) from About a Mountain by John D’Agata

As children, we all discover the sad reality that, a lot of the time, what you get on the inside isn’t as nice as you thought it would be due to a very flashy outside. I learned this many times with toys. What’s inside, hidden beneath foam wraps and secured by zip ties, doesn’t look like the computer edited and airbrushed toy those spiky haired kids on the box are going crazy for. The same can be said for the City of Las Vegas. Continue reading


Even before the smells and sights and, later, the terrible slamming seizures, even before all this, my mother thought I was doomed, which, in her scheme of things, was much better than being mediocre. (Slater 10)

Lauren Slaters question mark shaped memoir, Lying, is anything but untruthful. Instead of traditional/physical truths, however, we the readers are given emotional truths. These truths come in many forms and play off of the themes of the book (Mental illness, coming of age, the parent-child relationship, and sexuality to name a few).

It seems as though Slater could fill a library with literature on the subject of mental illness. First off, Lauren was definitely a victim of Münchausen syndrome by proxy and writes about it heavily in her memoir. Its not a traditional MSbP, her mother doesn’t seem to be causing her epilepsy directly (how could she), but Slater knows her mother wants her to be an epileptic. She references these frail memories with moments like, “I woke up from a long seizure on the floor. Every muscle ached. There was blood in my mouth. I opened my eyes and saw her standing above me, staring at me, probably, for a long long time…When a seizure rolled through me, it didn’t feel like mine; it felt like hers…This, the gift I gave you.” and on the previous page, “She seemed to almost like the illness”. These moments tell us that Slater may not have ever feigned epilepsy but for her mothers thirst for attention and novelty.

All in all, it is important to remember that a memoir doesn’t have to be 100% historically accurate. The word memoir comes from the French “mémoire” meaning memory. And as we learned from Sarah Koenigs podcast Serial, memories are not always as reliable as we want them to be. The point is, Lying is an account of Slaters young life as she sees it while looking back which allows it to be classified as nonfiction. Slater uses her Münchausen spawned epilepsy as a literary device to draw attention to the matrix of truth in memoir. Memoir shaped, if it could be, like a question mark.



A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love In the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation

“This is not art, this is life!” – Charleen

Some might be confused by the name: Sherman’s March

 shermansmarchaI think Ross McElwee made the right choice in the naming of his documentary. Not only did he tear grant providers a new one in the making of his film, but he also shed light on the the absurdity of preceding educational documentaries which were basically art sinks.

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Subjectivity v. Objectivity (2015)

When I think Serial by Sarah Koenig, I think of a few different arguments and disputes:

  • The most glaring and obvious one is the ethical struggle of Adnan’s fate. Should he be where he is just because one Dennis Rodman-looking kid with a very inconsistent story thinks he heard him say “Imma kill that bitch” in passing?
  • Is Adnan the charming sociopath that the judge said he was? In my opinion, a master manipulator wouldn’t be so dumb as to involve any extras in the murder (Jay).
  • Finally, where does Koenig land on the spectrum of subjectivity and objectivity when dealing with this case, and how does it affect audience perception?

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Be Careful of What You Say

It is interesting that Joan Didion acknowledged her style of story divulgence in the preface of her collection of essays, Slouching Towards Bethlehem. It was a move that revealed a self-awareness of her own tactful and un-serendipitous methods that make a difference in the field of literary journalism. Her choice to start the collection this way cemented her position as a literary investigative journalist, it was her way of saying “this is what I do and this is why it works”.

It has been said that there are no friends, only interests– “You have the right to remain silent” and probably should around Joan Didion. She’s almost like a cop, she comes of as a harmless friendly figure that embodies the feeling of safety while she’s actually collecting a pile of evidence that grows with each word that is said… She’ll drop acid with you for the sake of investigative journalism Continue reading