El's Reviews > Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
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bookshelves: 21st-centurylit, graphic-novels, library-borrow
Recommended to El by: The F-Word

Alison Bechdel is a cartoonist, which is an area that sort of fascinates me because I can't draw a consistent comic strip to save my life. Each panel would look different. So when someone can do it convincingly, I'm intrigued. Bechdel intrigues me because not only can she do that, but she can tell her own story in that format. When you decide to write a family memoir that deals with something so complicated such as homosexuality, putting it out there can be really difficult. Then when you decide to tell the story through words and your own images... it feels like it's even more personal that way. So I applaud Bechdel for having the balls to do it, because I don't think I could.

This is not an easy story for Bechdel to tell. On one hand it's the story of her life growing up in a funeral home with her two younger brothers and both her emotionally distant parents. As she grows up and she comes to terms with her own sexuality, she starts learning more about her father, and that is highlighted here as well. These stories run parallel, as any real formative experiences in our lives can.

I found the story touching in some ways, and emotionally distant in others, and I can't decide if the latter was intentional or not. I appreciated how literature helped fill some of the voids in both Alison and her father's lives, and it was also what ultimately drew them together. In that sense, it broke my heart because through Alison's storytelling, I felt this connection to her father - a man who probably did want to connect with his daughter, but didn't know the first way to do that, and so the closest he could get was to reach her through their love of literature. Their relationship probably grew more than Alison was aware of doing her college years before he died just based on their exchanged letters.

Of course maybe I'm just projecting since I don't really communicate with a lot of members of my family outside of the occasional email. It doesn't mean I don't care or don't love them, it's just... we don't really do the demonstrative thing, and now that we're all over the continent, it's even harder to connect. So we take those connections where we can. Right now those connections with my parents involve me emailing my mom the most recent horror movies I've watched, and then she emails back once she and my father watch them. Or I randomly send my father an email asking a question about cars that I read in a Stephen King novel, or a question about updating my resume, or CV formatting. Yes, it may seem cold, but that's how I connect to him now. It may be sad to you, but it works for us. (Or at least I think it does because we don't talk about it if it doesn't.)

In any case, for a graphic memoir, I appreciated what Bechdel did here. It just didn't have the same pazzam for me as Paul Hornschemeier's Mother, Come Home which may not be a graphic memoir now that I think of it, but still. Much more powerful. Though I am glad to finally have read Fun Home too since everyone talks about it quite a bit.
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Reading Progress

May 2, 2016 – Started Reading
May 2, 2016 – Shelved
May 2, 2016 – Shelved as: 21st-centurylit
May 2, 2016 – Shelved as: graphic-novels
May 2, 2016 – Shelved as: library-borrow
May 2, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Joe (new)

Joe Valdez Excellent review, El. I loved reading the personal bits about how your family relates. I find my own family situation similar to yours--spread out, independent, self reliant. I hope I can derive as much pleasure from this book as you did; few of the reviews are really over the moon.


message 2: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El Thanks, Joe! It's interesting to me as I get older seeing how other families interact with one another. No family is perfect, no matter what it looks like on the outside. I think Bechdel did a particularly good job of illustrating that.


Taylor Well, definitely adding Mother, Come Home to my list now!


message 4: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El Taylor wrote: "Well, definitely adding Mother, Come Home to my list now!"

I recommend reading it with a box of tissues nearby!


Taylor Sounds even more like my kind of read, then.


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