Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  37,261 ratings  ·  3,345 reviews
A fresh and brilliantly told memoir from a cult favorite comic artist, marked by gothic twists, a family funeral home, sexual angst, and great books.
This breakout book by Alison Bechdel is a darkly funny family tale, pitch-perfectly illustrated with Bechdel's sweetly gothic drawings. Like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, it's a story exhilaratingly suited to graphic memoir fo...more
Hardcover, 234 pages
Published June 8th 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company (first published June 5th 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Paul
THIS JUST IN : P BRYANT FAILS HIP GRAPHIC NOVEL TEST

Fun Home, a cripplingly hip graphic novel, is....

Yes?

It's....


YES??

Well, let's see, it's, you know, all right, good, yes, nods head, hummphs into beard, pulls earlobe, raises eyebrows, waves hands in a vague direction, shifts about in seat. You know. Don't get me wrong. It was good. Yes. Cool, clever, really hip, I mean, really, as far as I can tell, my hipometer needs a new battery I think; it was not the least bit funny, but that's not such a...more
Emily
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 Hom...more
Louisa
May 20, 2014 Louisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
 photo 739001_zps76240d26.jpg

I read this in one greedy gulp. I remember the moment clearly: It was after dinner around nine-ish and I had just made myself a cup of green tea and retired to our old, comfortable, well worn couch, brimming with much happiness and anticipation in reading this much talked about graphic novel. Or should I say, a graphic memoir in which it depicts the author's (Alison Bechdel) complex, heartbreaking and at times mind numbingly frustrating relationship with her father. It was not until she attende...more
oriana
Book #4 for Jugs & Capes, my all-girl graphic-novel book club!

You can also read this review (slightly tweaked) on CCLaP.

***

I've been wanting to read this book for years. Isn't it crazy that I had to start an entire graphic novel book club to somehow give myself permission to read it?

Perhaps. But who cares about the machinations I forced myself through to get to it? I am so glad I did. This book is simply spectacular. It is dense, fraught with meaning, stuffed with prose and complimented by...more
Sara
Apr 27, 2008 Sara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Folks stuck in LAX
I went out and bought this book immediately after hearing a paper on it at a recent conference. The paper had to do with narrative strategies that children use for uncovering and witnessing their parents' trauma -- in this book, the narrator Allison tries to piece together her father's life into a narrative she wants to read as that of a closeted gay man. In the narrator's logic, her coming out of the closet prompted her father's suicide four months later. After a life of secret affairs and sedu...more
Patrick
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 o...more
Jessica
I wonder pretty often what the point of writing books is, mostly because, well, you know, there are already so many of them...

More narrowly, I think I kind of understand why people feel compelled to write memoirs, but I do wonder -- as I remain stalled out on page 236 of Martin Amis's Experience -- why anyone ever reads them.

Fun Home answers both of these questions for me, plus a third larger one about what the point is of being alive. It seems like sort of a confusing and overwhelming waste som...more
Meg Powers
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...more
KFed
Alison Bechdel’s comic-form autobiography Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic begins and ends with strong textual and visual images of her father. The book’s first full drawing on the title page of chapter one is, in fact, a recreation of an old photograph of the enigmatic man. It sums up all that is impossible to capture about the man’s sexual and emotional being in one frame. As well, it sums up everything that makes this work artistically and thematically remarkable, an important contribution to li...more
Earline
just insert "Fun Home" in place of "House of Leaves" in Mickey's review:


This book looks at you with this smug fucking smile on it's face, daring you to say that you don't like it, knowing that masses of people are going to go along with it because they don't want to look stupid. That's what this is. It's the fucking Radiohead of books. Well, House of Leaves, I am not stupid and I'm calling your bullshit. Fuck you
Jordan
An exceptionally well-written piece of work that will hopefully open some doors to people unwilling to take comic art seriously.
That said, I can't help but compare it to the benchmarks of graphic novel memoirs - "Blankets," "Maus," and "Persepolis" - and it falls short. It just didn't draw me in the way I should have been. She relies too heavily on captions and telling us what happened, rather than letting her characters speak to each other and show us. She doesn't give the art room to do what i...more
MJ Nicholls
Shatters all my preconceptions of the graphic novel, reassures me of the form’s capacity for dense literally allusiveness, intellectual analysis and philosophical ponderings. Brilliant. The writer/artist was raised in a marvellously retro setting—a refurbished mansion kitted out like a Russian estate, with a snobbish bookworm for a father and an upper-class actress manqué for a mother (both of whom taught high-school English). The story attempts grand parallels between the author and her father,...more
Teresa
Aqui está mais um "filho" que adotei por culpa do Goodreads...
Se eu não andasse sempre por aqui a bisbilhotar nos livros alheios nunca o teria lido, porque tem duas características que, à partida, rejeito: trata-se de uma auto-biografia em banda desenhada.

Alison Bechdel - uma mulher corajosa - expõe uma parte da sua vida de uma forma criativa e enriquecedora. A figura principal é o seu pai, um homem rígido com a família, misterioso e com comportamentos socialmente não aceitáveis. Através de des...more
Kaion
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is Alison Bechdel's (of Bechdel test) memoir about growing in a cold home where all the occupants isolated themselves in artistic pursuit, with particular focus on her relationship with her closeted father, who killed himself soon after she came out as a lesbian in college. I don't write about the graphic novels/series I read often because I generally feel unable to talk about their impact without more knowledge of their nuts and bolts. I've been reading more review...more
Sue
10 stars! No 20! No 1000! Not only does Alison Bechdel tell her own very personal story, she tells a larger lesbian coming out story, an even larger coming of age story; heck she tells MY story in some stunningly coincidental specifics.

Bechdel and I are approximately the same age. We met once when she lived in Minneapolis, at a book event, (I think)<---Fun Home reference. It was a book signing, possibly in the upstairs of the Minneapolis' most famous and recognizable gay bar: The Gay 90's. S...more
Lisa Vegan
Brilliant! (That word sums it up just fine and could have been a fine entire review.)

I’ve never been a huge comics fan. I liked Peanuts from a young age and Doonesbury and I think The Far Side is absolutely perfect, but I never read comic books when I was young. As an adult I’ve found many graphic/comic book books that I’ve enjoyed, most of them memoirs and this is another one, a unique one.

I am in awe of those who can take their pain & grief & the unfinished business in their personal h...more
Ted
This is a terrific book. I would guess that a graphic memoir has never been published before, and the format added an extraordinary dimension to the story. (I can't recall ever having read a graphic novel before, so in that sense the entire experience of this book was new to me.)

The book was published when Bechdel was in her mid-40s, and tells the story of her own life, up to just before her twentieth birthday, and her father’s life, up to the same point in time, when he was run over by a truck...more
Sue
Only my second graphic novel but another amazing experience. The author recounts her childhood, coming of age and relationship to her family, especially to her father. There are comic moments but the story is primarily one of introspection. Bechdel reaches back and picks high and low-lights from her life to try to understand that particular special bond that seemed at times to exist between her father and herself and that she sought.

He managed the family business, the "fun home" or funeral home...more
Jimmy
Jul 24, 2010 Jimmy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jimmy by: orianna
The 7 chapters in this graphic memoir feel less like she's telling you a story from beginning to end... and more like she's telling you the same story 7 times. But each time, she reveals a little bit more, either contextual, historical, or personal analysis. It's more of a graphic-personal-essay than a graphic-memoir, in that she is trying to work something out, trying to make some meaning out of her past by looking at it from several different angles. The point is not to tell a good story, the...more
Emilia P
You know, I thought this book couldn't possibly be as good as I remembered it. But it really really is. It is exquisitely paced and laid out and drawn and balances Bechdel's story with her father's very well. And yes, it is maybe a little snobbily literary (Camus, Proust, Anais Nin, Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Wilde off the top of my head) but it is essential to the nature of the characters.

So two of the basic themes are important ones. First: family and memory. She makes it clear th...more
christa
Sometimes my reading takes on a sort of frantic archeological hunt-ness and I find myself tearing through books looking for the best sentence, the most aurally appealing word, the most curious idea. The next best thing ever. Or the next worst thing ever. A superlative in some respect. Something that bonks me over the head, bleeding from pores and lamenting the cruelty of only being able to read this thing for the first time once. And that there is a chance I will never again read anything better...more
Maureen
i'd say this is a 3.5. i liked the idea of calling a funeral home a "fun home" a whole lot. this is a memoir in comic book form, alison bechdel telling her own story in parallel with her father's and how she moved on after he died. i should say this is a family book, and so not normally the kind of book i read, but i got it at a dork book exchange a couple of years ago, and i needed something with art in it, so i picked this up, and here we are. bechdel's art presented in minimal black and white...more
Nikki
I first heard of Alison Bechdel through fandom and the Bechdel test. This is a simple way of evaluating the gender bias of a film:

1. It has to have at least two women in it,
2. who talk to each other,
3. about something besides a man.

Because it's simple, it's not always true. (Do Natasha Romanov, Pepper Potts and Maria Hill talk to each other in Avengers? No. Are they all female characters worth watching and identifying with? Yes.) But quite often, it is. (Sorry, Supernatural, but really. Really.)...more
Dusty Myers
I had some mixed reactions to the this book, a memoir of growing up with a closeted father. I thought at times she pushed so hard to connect the goings on in her life to some kind of historical or literary context. Her father was very Proustian, it seems, and her family's life was straight out of In Search of Lost Time, and also some James novels, and Gatsby. But throughout, Bechdel is critical of her need to make these connections. I mean, she's aware of what she's doing, and treats it, in her...more
Amanda
Meh. It was very self-indulgent (although i suppose most memoirs are)...also it was unexpectedly heavy on the literary references, and i didn't get a lot of them. But the illustrations weren't bad.
David
Alison Bechdel’s ‘Fun Home’ is a difficult read for many reasons. The subject matter is immediately controversial: a gay woman trying to come to terms with the death of her father having recently discovered that he had hidden his own homosexuality his whole life.
Bechdel often uses the comparison of Icarus and Daedalus to illustrate the complexities and near madness of a man obsessed with perfection and full of idiosyncratic compulsions; honing his invention and intelligence while at the same tim...more
Christopher


It's fitting that each chapter heading of Fun Home is a sketched rendering of a photograph from the author's childhood, because the book itself is a dual portrait of the author and her father, written with photographic quality. It's a hyper-literate memoir of a young girl in the midst of self-discovery who has grown up feeling completely at odds with her father, only to reach maturity along with the realization that she is more like her father than she could ever have realized.



Fun Home is a pri...more
Hadrian
Fun Home is a memoir of childhood, parents, the motives and mad ghosts of fathers, and how they affect our lives. It's almost tempting to lead with "This Be the Verse" by Philip Larkin.

Bechdel's father, Bruce Bechdel, was a barely-closeted funeral home director who had an unfortunate taste in teenage boys and a tendency towards literature, interior decoration, and neurosis. Her honesty and frankness in memoir is astonishing and refreshing. How do our parents affect us - or Bechdel, who became a...more
Seth Hahne
Fun home by Alison Bechdel

For some reason, and it may be a reaction based upon my own opposing predilection, attempts at overachievement bother me. When a person tries to act beyond the envelope of their abilities, I become put off. At least, I do when I notice. When an artist tries to create something amazing and succeeds without hiccough, I am wholly unperturbed—this due the nature of success. A clean success betrays no hint that the accomplishment was any kind of a stretch, no evidence that the achievement was anythin...more
Matt
Sad, compelling, and strange. I'm a fan of comics-- graphic novels, of course, or in this case a graphic memoir. Even though I can't find many parallels between Bechdel's family life and my own, I was still struck by how much I felt for her. My own father is the opposite of Bechdel's-- large, gentle, content, and masculine-- but I could see shadows of Bechdel's relationship with her father in my own more recent history. The places that self loathing can take a person are truly terrible, as are t...more
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21982
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.
More about Alison Bechdel...
Are You My Mother? The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For Dykes to Watch Out For More Dykes to Watch Out For New, Improved! Dykes to Watch Out For

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“I suppose that a lifetime spent hiding one's erotic truth could have a cumulative renunciatory effect. Sexual shame is in itself a kind of death.” 23 likes
“It was not a triumphal return. Home, as I had known it, was gone.” 23 likes
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