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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic [Paperback]

Alison Bechdel
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 5 2007 0618871713 978-0618871711 1
<DIV>In this groundbreaking, bestselling graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father. In her hands, personal history becomes a work of amazing subtlety and power, written with controlled force and enlivened with humor, rich literary allusion, and heartbreaking detail.

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.</div>

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This autobiography by the author of the long-running strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, deals with her childhood with a closeted gay father, who was an English teacher and proprietor of the local funeral parlor (the former allowed him access to teen boys). Fun Home refers both to the funeral parlor, where he put makeup on the corpses and arranged the flowers, and the family's meticulously restored gothic revival house, filled with gilt and lace, where he liked to imagine himself a 19th-century aristocrat. The art has greater depth and sophistication that Dykes; Bechdel's talent for intimacy and banter gains gravitas when used to describe a family in which a man's secrets make his wife a tired husk and overshadow his daughter's burgeoning womanhood and homosexuality. His court trial over his dealings with a young boy pushes aside the importance of her early teen years. Her coming out is pushed aside by his death, probably a suicide. The recursively told story, which revisits the sites of tragic desperation again and again, hits notes that resemble Jeanette Winterson at her best. Bechdel presents her childhood as a "still life with children" that her father created, and meditates on how prolonged untruth can become its own reality. She's made a story that's quiet, dignified and not easy to put down. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* This is a father and daughter story. Bechdel's mother and two brothers are in it, of course, but Bruce Bechdel had the biggest impact on his eldest child and so is naturally the other main character in her autobiographical graphic novel. Emotionally and physically reserved, to the point of brusqueness, he busied himself restoring--and then some--the Victorian-era house he bought for the family in the Pennsylvania town in which he was born and lived virtually all his 44 years. He enlisted the kids for never-ending interior and exterior modifications of the place in what obviously was his major creative outlet. For a living, he taught twelfth-grade English and ran the small undertaking business that occupied part of his parents' house and that the kids called the fun home. Bechdel doesn't even hint about how ironic she and her brothers meant to be, because she is a narrative artist, not a moralist or comedian, in this book and because she has a greater, real-life irony to consider. After disclosing her lesbianism in a letter home from college, her mother replied that her father was homosexual, too. Alison suddenly understood his legal trouble over buying a beer for a teenage boy, all the teen male "helpers" he had around the house, and his solo outings during family vacations to New York. Bechdel's long-running Dykes to Watch Out For is arguably the best comic strip going, and Fun Home is one of the very best graphic novels ever. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars read it in the bath in one go Dec 6 2006
Format:Hardcover
utterly compelling, charming, sad and humourous. compelled to keep reading,i stayed in my bath until i was completely pruney, till i reached the very last page. it was well worth emptying the hot water tank.

while i have enjoyed her comic strip over the years, bechdel is clearly a much more talented, nuanced artist than "Dykes to Watch Out For" would indicate, both in terms of her visual acumen and her subtle use of structure and dialogue to capture the vagaries of memory and grief.

highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Voyeurism Invited Nov. 9 2008
Format:Paperback
Ever since I can remember, I''ve loved to see inside people's homes. Maybe it's a bit of voyeurism, or the half-hidden belief that if I can see the interior of their home, I may be given a greater understanding of the true nature of their interior self' or maybe I''m just nosey.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel is a voyeur''s delight. Bechdel invites the reader into her childhood home to snoop, poke and prod at the most intimate core of family experience. No door is locked, nothing is off limits and all is revealed in the harsh glare of her formidable analytical critique. In the spotlight is Bechdel's relationship with her father; a critical, aloof, closet homosexual, more comfortable in the realm of academic philosophies and surface artifice than the often grubby and disorganized dwelling of emotional human relationships.

Bechdel weaves a family tapestry filled with the excitement of discovery, the sorrow of unfulfilled need, the grief of dreams adrift and the acceptance that comes with understanding. Her story is entwined with mythological patterns that spiral back and forth between the personal and universal creating a tightly crafted 'family tragicomic'. Bechdel's art re-enforces the impact of pattern with the use of sparse, unadorned line-work, softened by flat washes. Her accessible, whimsical line style gives the reader some breathable room to absorb the almost palpable sorrow of need and loss central to the theme of father and self.

A generous, intelligent autobiography, Bechdel's readers are saved from slitting their wrists in grief through her satiric sense of humour.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun Home April 7 2010
By Garp
Format:Paperback
Fun Home is at once a coming-out story and an intense portrait of Alison Bechdel's father, Bruce Bechdel. The story is beautifully illustrated in greenish tones and, in its presentation of the father-daughter relationship of Alison and Bruce, deeply felt. What makes Fun Home distinctive is its constant reliance on literary artefacts and historical events to further the plot. Alison's historical reconstruction of her father's life as a closeted homosexual in the 70s and early 80s is set against a backdrop of events such as Watergate and the Stonewall Riots, and derives much of its power from allusions to authors such as Joyce, Proust, Fitzgerald, and Wilde. Similarly, the personal development of Alison is marked by a reliance on a rich supply of lesbian and feminist literature. In its overabundance of literary artefacts, Fun Home quickly becomes a story of words and stories, and how we find personal meaning in the shared histories and fables of humankind.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Got to love Graphic Memoirs Jan. 10 2013
Format:Paperback
Fun Home stands for Funeral Home. Sounds gloomy, I know. But far too many things were going on in Alison's family to worry about a house full of corpses. Like the relationship she had with her father, a man so focused on the aesthetics of life, and of course, the estranged relationship between her parents.

For reasons beyond my control, I had difficulty relating to this book in comparison with Are You my Mother. Mostly because my father is a puzzle with a handful of lost pieces. But also because in Are you my Mother, Bechdel analyzes why her mother is the way she is, how she felt being raised without physical affection, how it impacted her later in her 30s, in her 40s. I wish we could have seen a deeper side in this book as well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! June 26 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. I was also a fan of 'Dykes to watch out for'. It really is a biography about herself and her relationship with her father.
I love her drawing.
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