Writer(s): Alison Bechdel
Artist(s): Alison Bechdel
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin/Mariner Books
Page count: 232
Year Released: 2006
Status: in print
Original Source: n/a
Other Collected Edition(s): hardcover (ISBN 978-0618477944)
Genres: autobiography; coming of age; literature; romance/relationships
Recommended for Fans Of:
Possibly Objectionable Material: coarse language; nudity; sexual situations
If You Like This Book, Try: Blankets
Also in This Series: n/a
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is a nonlinear memoir that focuses on Bechdel's childhood and teen years, including her time in college. The subject matter generally focuses on Bechdel's relationship with her tyrannical father, a closeted homosexual, and on her own realization, in college, that she is a lesbian. The setting for this story is a Gothic revival house originally built in 1867 (the eponymous "Fun Home") in a small eastern Pennsylvania town that served both as the Bechdels' residence and as a funeral home, for which Bechdel's father was the funeral director and mortician.
The event at the heart of the book is the death of Bechdel's father in 1980--two weeks after Bechdel's exasperated mother asked for a divorce and a few months after Bechdel informed her parents that she is a lesbian. The question that Bechdel struggles with throughout the book is whether her father's death was accidental or a suicide (he was hit by a truck while crossing the street).
My Own 2 Cents
Fun Home is many things: a memoir, a study of the dysfunctional family dynamic, a meditation on gender and sexual identity, a personal history of gay culture in the 1970s, a mystery story (did Bruce Bechdel commit suicide?), a rich tapestry of literary allusions (Bechdel and her father as Daedalus and Icarus, or as Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom in Joyce's Ulysses, her father as Camus, Fitzgerald, Wilde, etc.), a deconstruction of the memoir-as-truth concept, and so on. It is, in short, a remarkable work of literature.
The book does not follow a chronological path but instead revisits the same material from different angles, with each of the seven chapters in the book reevaluating certain moments and events from a distinct perspective. This results in some repetition, but each recursive moment functions to provide the reader with a greater understanding of Bechdel's life as seen from a new point of view--usually in the form of a literary allusion.
Fun Home is an excellent book, and one that rewards multiple re-readings. It has my highest recommendation.
Writer(s): Alison Bechdel