Happy Birthday Alison Bechdel!

Posted on September 10, 2011
Filed Under Book Review, Happy Birthday!, Strong Recommendation | Leave a Comment

Until a few years ago Alison Bechdel was best known for “Dykes to Watch Out For.”  This iconic comic strip provided regularly updated, humorous insights into the multi-faceted LGBT world.

And then In 2006 something dramatic happened to Ms. Bechdel:  her memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic was published.  As queer readers will recall, I loved this book. It would however be somewhat more difficult to recall just how many awards and honors this graphic novel has received.  My own count is thirteen–and you can click here for the list–but I probably missed a few.

Here is my updated review of Fun Home:

Proving Tolstoy’s statement that “every family is unhappy in its own way,” Ms. Bechdel presents us with a uniquely unhappy family. The fact that this family is her own makes this book all the more powerful.  Reading it for the second time, it occurred to me that the graphic novel format is perfectly suited for the personal memoir.  We remember our lives visually as well as verbally. And these memories are often in single frame with a short line of description and perhaps a sentence or two of contemporary understanding.  As an example of this, Ms Bechdel draws a detailed panel of a family at church–the kids visibly bored, the mother deadpan and the father eyeing an altar boy in a slightly lecherous fashion.  The caption above the image:

HE APPEARED TO BE AN IDEAL HUSBAND AND FATHER, FOR EXAMPLE.

And then, inlaid into the image, another caption:

BUT WOULD AN IDEAL HUSBAND HAVE SEX WITH TEENAGE BOYS?

The title of the book refers to Ms Bechdel’s childhood home.  “Fun home” is the kids’ ironic name for their house–which was also a funeral parlor. But this is doubly ironic, because this funeral parlor/house is something of a fun house.  And Ms. Bechdel’s memoir is a hall of mirrors–in which her coming out represents a mirror image of her father’s (apparent) decision to remain in the closet.

Above all Fun Home is a deeply personal journey of discovery–a sincere, intelligent quest for human understanding.

I strongly recommend this book.

Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is published by Mariner Books.

Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • About

    The purpose of QueerReader.com is to provide information for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons seeking quality queer literature.

  • Admin