I keep putting off writing a review of Fun Home because I feel a sense of obligation to the book — one so well written deserves a well-written review, and I haven’t had it in me lately to try to write one. Here is my poor attempt to do justice to this fantastic book.
Alison Bechdel has been a popular, well-known cartoonist for over 20 years, penning the witty and and enjoyable “Dykes to Watch Out For” series, which is serialized in a number of publications and collected in book format over a dozen times.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is Bechdel’s extraordinary, resonant memoir, told in graphic novel form. But don’t think when you pick this up that you’d be reading a comic book – this is a piece of gorgeously-illustrated, lyrically-written literature.
Bechdel recounts her childhood, especially her relationship with her closeted and deeply conflicted father, who was both the owner of the local funeral home (the “Fun Home” of the title) and a local English teacher. Bruce Bechdel is a stern and exacting man who looms large in the lives of everyone who knows him, and Alison’s childhood is marked by both her attempts to reach out to him, and to rebel against his ideals and tastes. Bruce’s sexual orientation is an awkward and somewhat ill-kept secret in her childhood, but Alison doesn’t completely put all the pieces together until she comes out herself in college, when her mother fills in the gaps. Bruce Bechdel is killed a few months later in what may have been a suicide, and Alison is left to wonder whether her own coming-out, now overshadowed by the event, may have been a catalyst for it. Ultimately she finds a connection to her father by returning time and again to one of their mutual loves; classic literature.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
by Alison Bechdel
I highly recommend reading this book.