3.5 5 Fun Home s biggest flaw is its self conscious, droll narrative voice that diminishes its raw earnestness at times Alison Bechdel imposes her obsessive compulsive desire for extracting meaning from even the most commonplace of occurrences on to a narrative of coming to terms with personal loss And this whole exercize of drawing parallels between fictional and real life tragedies and pivotal emotional beats becomes too trite all too soon Maybe she should have known when to put the kibosh on this thing.But it s okay Since I understand wherefrom this monomaniacal urge originates It s hard to make sense of a father s death especially at an age when you were only just learning how to peel off layers of pretensions obfuscating the unadulterated reality that lay at the core of his personhood It s not so much a crushing sadness that hits you but an overwhelming disbelief and a sense ofit s not fairwhich becomes so large and potent a force that it pushes out all concomitant emotions of bereavement from your mind leaving a kind of vacuum Before my to psychobabble gets the better of my good sense, let me come clean about my personal reasons for rating this work as high as 3.5 stars Greater than the sum of my annoyance at Bechdel s rather shabby artwork at times I couldn t tell the difference between Bruce Bechdel and Alison s brothers and her tendency to forge correlations between Proust, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Colette, Henry James, Wilde s fictional characters and snippets of memorable moments from her dysfunctional childhood spent in a rural Pennsylvania homestead, was my genuine appreciation for this heartfelt tribute to such a delightfully ambiguous father Having lost a father at 14, I know how it feels trying to grasp at straws, trying to analyze one seemingly inconsequential incident or subjecting one precious shared moment to intense and concentrated scrutiny from all possible angles Stray notes tucked in between the last page and the backcover of a magazine recovered years later, journals, hand written letters, favorite paperbacks, the only bit of literary criticism he published, heaps of carefully organized notes that he prepared for his classes, tapes containing his voice recordings cooing at your tiny baby form and anecdotes recounted by the ones who knew him better and longer than you did become coded roadsigns to some secret location promising complete de mystification But you know it s just delusional thinking anyway You will never know him the way you could have.Unlike Bruce Bechdel who grappled with the stark contradiction between his public reality and private urges all his life, my father didn t particularly have any skeletons in his closet And even if he did I have no way of unraveling that mystery now But what I do have in common with Bechdel s perspective on her father, is this perplexity, subliminal resentment and an amused incredulity about his life and his deeds How can he be just a person existing in the past tense now At least she must have achieved some kind of closure through the creation of this part graphic memoir part literary essay on remembering a loved one I certainly hope she did.My rating and review are thus reprehensibly subjective Do not expectfrom a reviewer who has massive daddy issues and will continue to deal with them till the day she breathes her last I solemnly confess to beingmoved by the parts focusing on her family rather than the K nstlerroman ish bits about her coming out in college and identifying as a butch woman But what stopped me from rating this any higher is the painfully overwrought sentence construction Bechdel employs which aside from being cringe worthy at times creates an unwanted dissonance between the import of an emotional moment and its actual graphical representation and executionI would see my father onetime after this But we would never discuss our shared predilection again I m sorry Ms Bechdel but if this is your attempt at cracking a joke on the likelihood of your gay self having a conversation with your gay dad about well being gay, it s kind of pathetic. I ve known about Bechdel for some time, but I ve never gotten around to reading any of her work Odds are, you know about her too, even if you re not aware of it She s the one that invented the appropriately named Bechdel Test for movies.If you don t know about the test, it bears talking about It s almost like a checklist 1 Does the movie have two female characters in it 2 Do the two female characters have at least one conversation 3 Does at least one of their conversations concentrate on something other than a man If the answer to any of these is no you fail the test To me, the truly interesting thing about this test isn t how many movies utterly fail it It s that when you re first exposed to the test, you re forced to confront how fucked up the gender bias in almost all media is Anyway, I picked up the comic because I was curious what her writing was like And because it s odd to see a graphic novel that s won so much literary attention This book has a ton of awards and accolades Did I like it Yes It s cleverly written Very earnest and heartfelt It s fascinating Did I lurve it No I admire the craft in the book It was emotionally engaging without being maudlin It was artfully constructed It shared an experience with me that I never would have gained anywhere else I d happily recommend it to a lot of my friends But for me, that s where it stops Enjoyment and admiration of the craft This book is a wonderful example of Great books that are not perfectly targeted for me Now don t get me wrong It was fascinating Books I whole heartedly enjoy and admire are still in the top 5% But what really rings the bell that hangs in your heart is mostly a matter of flavor, and this one wasn t quite suited to me Is it worth your time Yes That said, you relikely to enjoy it if you re a recovering English major Or if you re a fan of queer culture, autobiographical fiction, or non superhero graphic novels. In This Graphic Memoir, Alison Bechdel Charts Her Fraught Relationship With Her Late FatherDistant 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 Family dysfunction, bow down to the Bechdel family.Alison Bechdel s father Bruce was an enigma to her while she was growing up an English teacher and director of the family owned funeral home aka the Fun Home who had an exacting eye for fashion, decor, and gardening He wasn t a bad father, but he always seemed to keep her and her brothers at arm s length, not to mention her mother.While Alison remembered some special, tender times, she rememberedmoments of being forced to wear an outfit she didn t want, scolded into meeting his tough cleaning standards, and feeling bewildered at his obsession with making sure all of the flowers around their house always looked perfect.When Alison was in college, she came out to her parents as a lesbian Shortly thereafter, she found out that her father was gay While perhaps not entirely surprising if she added up all of the signs and clues she might have noted subconsciously, the discovery still throws her for a loop And while they had one half conversation about this, a few weeks after his revelation, her father died, leaving a legacy of mystery and confusion in his wake Perhaps my eagerness to claim him as gay in the way I am gay, as opposed to bisexual or some other category, is just a way of keeping him to myself a sort of inverted oedipal complex Fun Home is both a daughter s efforts to make sense of her father s life and death as it is an account of growing up uncomfortable in your own skin, of knowing you are different but being afraid of acknowledging it for fear everything might change, even though it should It s a story of coming to terms with who you are, while remembering a man who really never had that luxury.I m really late to the party in reading this, and while I ve heard some of the music from the musical version of Fun Home , I never saw the show either I ve never read a graphic novel memoir before although I read lots of Archie, Betty, and Veronica comics growing up, and was addicted to the Silver Surfer , and this was both a refreshing and challenging format for me.This book practically pulsates with emotion, anger, and confusion, as well as the uncertainty that comes with self discovery When it dealt with Alison s own life or her father s struggles to find himself, the book is strongest, but it spends a lot of time holding up their story against a backdrop of classic literature which her father so loved , and after a while I didn t enjoy those portions as much However, as someone who wishes his father was still alive so we could have conversations about life there never seemed to be time for then, I found Fun Home beautifully moving.If you mostly read books via Kindle or another e reader, do yourself a favor and borrow or buy the printed version of this one I was so glad I made the investment to enjoy the power of how Bechdel s illustrations told as much of the story as her words While this wasn t perhaps as good as I had expected it to be, it still is powerful, and I ll remember it for some time to come.See all of my reviews at Many Thanks to Margaret who recommended this book to me WOW.I knew NOTHING about this book TERRIFIC SPECTACULAR until it was in my hands today other than it was a highly recognized graphic memoir chosen best book of the year by at least 10 major publications in 2006.80, 4333 people rated this book so where was I Hidden away with blindfolds and earplugs There s a lot going on in this memoir so much so, there could be several individual books written on any one theme For 18 years Allison grew up in a house of daily renovation If anybody has lived through having their bathroom or kitchen remodeled you know personally what the disruption feels like Can you imagine your entire childhood around hammers and nails. strips of loose molding Remodeling is very stressful I would think that many years of focus of renovation would drive every family member into a corner That much daily physical chaos creates disconnected communications I could understand that when Allison was little, her house, the walls, the wallpaper, the furniture, the curtains, all felt like another child in the house She, on the other hand, often felt like the furniture Allison offers elegant prose pleasure intelligence and compassion through literary references.reflecting on classics read that both she and her dad enjoyed shared loved for books.They she and her dad never did come out to each other Both are gay To get the full story READ THIS GRAPHIC AUTOBIOGRAPHY Suggestion If you have not read this book, know nothing about it having not read any reviews no blurbs nothing have been living under a rock like I have , if you are willing to trust go in blind DON T read anything about this book until you have finished the last page I HIGHLY RECOMMENDED reading it this way It s Sooooooo worth reading Another TOP TOP TOP graphic memoir A few great quotes inspired by Ulysses , by James Joyce. Works doubly as a hugely terrific autobiography a megaengaging graphic novel In FUN HOME, there is a tremendous longing to merge both of these Arts The intent is always to make print as compelling as the pictorials they are made to convey Astute, cheeky enthralling, it brings together disparate themes like Wind in the Willows The Importance of Being Earnest and Catcher in the Rye , as well as A Chorus Line Joyce s Ulysses pretty much a choose your own literature type adventure that possibly every single reader of this flawless book could relate to.Ten dollars to you if the last page frame of this doesn t make you B.O.L PS We are watching the musical this January Oh blessed New Year Bawl Out Loud This graphic memoir has been on my to read list for what feels like ages, so I felt entirely satisfied when I completed reading it.In this graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father.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.In the end, I was compelled to pick up Fun Home completely on a whim Though I flew through it, a lot of the literary references went shamefully over my head And considering that it was such a big focus here, I was left out of the loop a lot, which ended up lowering my enjoyment while reading.Also, I was made entirely uncomfortable with her father and his violent tendencies towards his family, his preying on young boys, and his overall behavior towards the na ve.I did like how something that Alison Bechdel mentioned in the first half would then get completed in the second half And I learned quite a lot about funerals, which I was not expecting going into this Also, Bechdel taking the time to discuss her OCD was crucial and enlightening.On that note, here are some other parts I enjoyed When their grandma told the tale of how Bruce Bechdel got stuck in the mud, I was just as compelled as the kids I wanted to knowI LOVE hearing about dreams Ever since I read the above exchange, it s been on my mind constantly I m curious to see what her next graphic novel Are You My Mother entailsNote I m anAffiliate If you re interested in buying Fun Home, just click on the image below to go through my link I ll make a small commissionSupport creators you love Buy a Coffee for nat bookspoils with Ko fi.com bookspoils My life is such a hot ass mess right now that it took me a week to read this even though I loved it Whereas most graphic novels are quick, fun reads, this is unlike anything I ve read before because it s so rich with meaning This is like a literary fiction novel tucked into a graphic novel It made me think, it wowed me with its language, and it definitely provoked a lot of thought about family and sexuality and I don t know Emotions I guess autobiographical graphic novels are my favorite because this and Blankets by Craig Thompson are some of the best I ve read in that genre. Reading Fun Home A Family Tragicomic put me in the same irritated and impatient mood experienced when reading Toni Morrison s The Song of Solomon in high school both books feel like major wank offs to the writers cumulative reading endeavors To put it in less crude terms, both books overflow with self conscious references to classic literature both use The Odyssey in a major way However, this is not a review of The Song of Solomon, so I suppose I will set aside that grudge for now.This is how I feel any person, no matter how mediocre his her life might be perceived, can be made into a great story The key to this is good writing, and although Bechdel s writing is ORNAMENTAL, it s not engaging She doesn t make me care about her, and I care only a little bit about her dad, whom the book focuses on The constant literary references Joyce, Camus, Proust, Wilde, etc do not impress me and they do not enrich the story she is telling Bechdel continuously draws parallels to anything and everything literary Comparing the map in The Wind in the Willows to a map of her local terrain is one thing comparing her first act of performing cunnilingus to entering Homer s cave of Polyphemus made me groan out loud Bechdel also uses dictionary definitions as an ongoing motif, a cliche that ALWAYS annoys me orgasm or gaz um what is an orgasm what does it mean in the context of my own life Let s examine this word and blah blah blah blah bitchy paraphrasing I will say I have never been a fan of Dykes to Watch Out For or Alison Bechdel s drawing style in general and my enjoyment of a comic, as is typical, is largely derived from the visual component , so it is unfair to complain about that here it s a matter of taste However, if the facial expressions were rendered differently, and if Bechdel shook out the masturbatory references and word definitions, she might have sold me But no. Having never felt much inclination toward the graphic novel genre, I accepted a copy of Fun Home by Alison Bechdel on loan only because a coworker promised that I could finish it in one hour and forty minutes almost precisely the amount of time it would take to travel from the office to my home in Connecticut, where I had plans to spend the weekend.One hour and fifty five minutes later, when my mom pulled in her mini van, I was close to the end, but not there yet I m a slow reader But Fun Home is also a book that demands patient, meticulous study I examined every illustration, looking for the visual details that Alison, a cartoonist, has tucked in, here and there Hidden like easter eggs, there are amusing details meant to be discovered on particularly grim pages Alison can also make the most simplistic details Road Runner on the TV period cars recurring appearances of the Sun Beam Bread logo realistic, melancholy, and heartrending all at once.And the story itself, the misery and the humor of the characters, the events, and the time period, must be thoughtfully digested The book is divided into seven chapters, each based on a different theme in the author s childhood and young adult life Each one on its own could be a personal essay about overcoming an unusual hardship, but the episodes are tied together by recurring moments the scene in which Alison learns her father s deepest darkest secret over the phone the stack of literature on homosexuality that grows and grows on her nightstand in college her father writing letters to her mother from his bunk during the war and references to classic literature that are carefully, artfully implemented and never daunting.As a memoir, Fun Home is beautifully arranged and as honest and unapologetic as they come Alison writes and draws as if she is still putting together the pieces as she does so, and closes the book with the impression that the story is not over Which of course, it is not, since the author, her two brothers, and their mother, all survive the father they never had and then lost Fun Home illustrates the fact that we never truly escape the legacies of our parents and never completely outgrow our childhood experiences Alison wrote a note in the Advance Readers Edition, which I read, in which she notes the actual documentary truth as recorded in diaries, letters, clippings and photographs from her childhood was almost always richer andsurprising than the way she had remembered a particular event In Fun Home, Alison does not just explore the far reaches of her memory She revisits it as if seeing it all happen again, literally, graphically, for the first time.
Alison Bechdel is an American cartoonist Originally best known for the long running comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For, in 2006 she became a best selling and critically acclaimed author with her graphic memoir Fun Home.
- 232 pages
- Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
- Alison Bechdel
- 12 August 2019 Alison Bechdel