Fun Home ~ Alison Bechdel

In this groundbreaking, bestselling graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father. In her hands, personal history becomes a work of amazing subtlety and power, written with controlled force and enlivened with humor, rich literary allusion, and heartbreaking detail.

Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the “Fun Home.” It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.

Alison Bechdel’s coming of age tale is a difficult one. It was easy to sympathize with young Alison who must have been like a ship lost at sea. The coldness of her family home was palpable and mirrored that of the funeral home where her father worked. Other than being indentured servants to their father’s fastidious home decor projects, there were no signs of outright abuse, but the lack of affection would be enough to cause any child psychological problems. It would have been easy for Bechdel to paint her father as the patriarchal tyrant, but she manages to make him somewhat sympathetic. Her ability to find humor in an otherwise grim story and her wonderful artwork kept me wanting to read more.

For interviews with Alison Bechdel click here and here.

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5 thoughts on “Fun Home ~ Alison Bechdel

  1. I can’t really say I enjoyed this book — I found it dark and disturbing in many ways. But I must say I found it compelling reading. I think I read it pretty much straight through.

    I also think this book is a good introduction to the graphic novel format for some readers who have never tried one. This is clearly an adult book, and not a comic book in any sense of the word. It’s similar in style and substance to books like “House of Happy Endings” by Leslie Garis and “Running with Scissors” by Augusten Burroughs, and would appeal to the same audience, but I thought this story was enhanced by the visual presentation. I particularly liked the little snippets of letters and envelopes and photographs…they just made this story feel real to me.

  2. Elizabeth – I agree this book wasn’t necessarily enjoyable, but I didn’t want to put it down either. I just wanted to give young Alison a big hug. I agree that the images added another dimension to the story. It’s silly, but I’m always amazed by that when I read a graphic novel. I guess I’m just not used to that yet. But, you could just telll so much about her father, by the expressions on his face.

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