It’s Reading for Pleasure Wednesday,1 and I’ve been reading Alison Bechdel‘s memoir, Fun Home. Bechdel is the creator of the fantastic, long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, and her memoir features the same wry wit, rich characterization, and distinctive visual style.
The focus of the book is Alison’s relationship with her father, a stern, emotionally distant but highly creative man obsessed with renovating the Victorian home in which the family lives. Alison is a voracious reader and budding artist in childhood, and as a college student, it is through reading that she comes to understand herself as a lesbian. Soon, she comes out to her parents, which leads her mother to inform her that Alison’s father had been having affairs with other men throughout their marriage. Not long thereafter, Alison’s father is struck and killed by a truck in a bizarre accident, and she worries over whether the accident was really a suicide. She’s saddened and frustrated by her inability to learn more about her father’s secret life.
Fun Home is one of the best nonfiction graphic works I’ve ever read, filled with literary allusions to such writers as James Joyce and Marcel Proust. It’s a very smart, humane, and funny treatment of the themes of memory, childhood, and identity.
Glad you’re going to join in! I’ve got a hold request at the library on this book — someone else was recommending it to me recently too.
I predict you’ll like it.
It differs from her strip in that she uses a lot of narration in Fun Home, much like, say, the voiceover at the beginning of the film Raising Arizona.
Someone else wrote about this comic recently, too, but now I can’t remember who it was. This does sound really intriguing. In the spring, my classes look at representations of home, and I’ve been thinking about redesigning the reading list. Wonder if Houghton Mifflin will send me an exam copy?
I have no doubt that they will.