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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Paperback – Jun 5 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Paperback, Jun 5 2007
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  • Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
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  • Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (June 5 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618871713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618871711
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #45,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
As Art Spiegelman proved with Maus, father memoirs can take graphic narrative form. Courageously original and lovingly honest, Fun Home is a coming of age story'a story of lesbian self-discovery'which also outs the father posthumously as a closeted gay man and a possible suicide. In intertwining her father's story with her own, Bechdel is conscious of being as ruthless as her father was in 'his monomaniacal restoration of our old house.' She, too, is a Daedalus, who answers 'not to the laws of society, but to those of [her] craft.' Profoundly personal, Fun Home is also mythic. From the opening page onward, it is a rich affirmation of Stephen Daedalus's closing words in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: 'Welcome, O life, I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead.' This affirmation is triumphantly validated by 'the tricky reverse narration' of Fun Home's final panels, in which Bechdel's artistically resurrected, epic father is there to catch and save her child self.
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By Garp on April 7 2010
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This graphic novel is a monumental autobiographical exposé by a talented artist and writer. There is no doubt about that. But I struggled to find it worth reading to its end, but I did. The author had an interesting childhood, being raised by a father and mother who were emotionally distant. Both were teachers who communicated their introverted personalities and subversive motivations vicariously through restoration of architecture and studying classical literature (her father’s pursuits) and dramatic theatre and acting on stage (her mother’s). From the paternal influence Alison found solace in literature from a young age. There seems to have been little maternal influence so this book deals mostly with the father-daughter relationship. Alison, her parents and her two younger brothers were emotionally a fractured family, each being primarily preoccupied with their own interests. Affection and heart-to-heart conversations were lacking.

The book is mostly interesting for its tell-all character—literally and graphically. Don’t be fooled by the title “Fun Home” or the “comic” element in the subtitle. Fun House is a cynical allusion to the family’s ancillary source of income: a funeral home. Alison had an early and frank introduction to naked dead bodies and the technicalities of embalming. She gradually realizes her father’s secret attraction to young boys, including underage ones. When she attends college she discovers her own sexual same gender attraction and has a lesbian relationship. Her father gets caught providing alcohol to a minor. When he dies after being hit by a truck she surmises that it was no accident but suicide. That he no longer could face living a charade.
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