Friday, March 27, 2009

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Meet Alison's father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family's Victorian house, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter's complex yearning for her father. And yet, apart from assigned stints dusting caskets at the family-owned "fun home," as Alison and her brothers call it, the relationship achieves its most intimate expression through the shared code of books. When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescence, the denouement is swift...graphic...and redemptive.

I told myself to save it for after (the many other books I borrowed), but I just couldn't help it and ripped into Fun Home by Alison Bechdel yesterday. It was a completely absorbing read. It was warm and funny and yet also very sobering (it is after all, titled as a 'tragicomic'.) I loved the (asides) she put in, such as "(Honest to God, we had a painting of a cockatoo in the library.)", and the bits and pieces taken from her childhood diary, which reminded me of my own random scribblings as a kid. I especially enjoyed her style of drawing, kept simple in black, white and blue. I know these thoughts don't really do justice to this great book, which I'm definitely recommending, whether you've ever picked up a graphic novel or not. So I'd like to point you to the far more comprehensive review in The Quarterly Conversation.

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