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original front cover
CAUTION: Contains sexual situations,
language and humour.

More of Bechdel's Acute Observations of the Human Condition
Post Dykes to Watch Out For
Alison Bechdel

original back (intended) cover
The mixture continues as before -- take one acutely-observed slice of life, garnish with some tart satire that spares no-one and takes no prisoners, and serve on wry.

Though it is primarily a comic about, by and for gay women, DTWOF has some lessons and some rather pointed humour that anyone, of any and all genders and inclinations can profit from.

I suppose that a reference point, for those who recall it, would be Gil Shelton's "Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers" strip -- while drawn by a member of the counterculture, and featuring members of that counterculture as protagonists, it was as likely to zap the hippies as the straights -- often times both in the same strip.

Bechdel seems to proceed under similar intentions. She sees both sides of many issues, and, while making her own positions clear, does not necessarily demonise those who hold other views. Pity them, sometimes, but not demonise them.

(I say "not necessarily".  There are {mostly richly-deserved} exceptions.)

This book picks up immediately after virtually the entire cast have moved to the suburbs, bought houses, or acquired new roommates. (In the case of Ginger and Lois, it's "Bought a house and acquired a new roommate" -- and a guy at that.)

Mo and Sydney are trying to fit as housemates as well as lovers; a situation not helped by indications that Sydney may already be cheating on her. The reality and the resolution of *that* situation are hilarious.

Clarice and Toni are having troubles of their own -- partly in their relationship and partly trying to fit themselves and their son Raffi into the suburban lifestyle. Their interactions with their corporate-attorney neighbour, his uptight wife -- and their son, who is Raffi's age and curious, make for some amusing and frustrating moments...

And so on.

In this collection, the author deals with jealousy, unfaithfulness, a daughter's hurt that her widowed father is beginning to date, a formerly all-female, all-lesbian household's difficult adjustment to one of its members having a live-in boyfriend(!), financial irresponsibility, many social issues, crabgrass and many many more topics. And the looming need to decide whether a faithful, loved and loving but Very Old canine companion should be kept going by heroic means, or helped gracefully and quietly onward on the wheel of life. And every story point is investigated and portrayed with both precision and sympathy.

As usual, Bechdel continues the storyline beyond the end of the collected weekly strips here, going on to give us about another sixty pages of story material that carries us onward and ties up some loose ends while leaving others dangling for future exploration.

This is a great book about what it means to be human -- not just female and/or gay, no matter what the author intended, and also a very funny and at times very touching visit with a cast of characters we've come to know well over the course of the strip and the series of book-length collections like this one.

I devoured this book within an hour of opening the package; i'm already looking forward to the next.

A wonderful book. You should buy it.

((On the right hand side of this review's header box, i have inserted the intended back cover for the original edition of this book, which was not used for some reason.))