Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

#50 in my 2007 book challenge was Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. My goal for the year was fifty, and I’m happy I’m going to exceed it. See, it IS possible for parents of small children to read, and to read books of substance!

This is labeled memoir/graphic narrative, since it can hardly be called a graphic novel. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’ve not read her comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, but friends have and recommend it. Bechdel’s art perfectly reflects her memoir–gentle, sad, measured, careful, and caring. It is both expressive and engaging. Interestingly, it called to my mind the style of Carla Speed McNeil, who writes/illustrated in the very different genre of fantasy.

The fun home of the title is how the family jokingly refers to the family business inherited by her father, a funeral home. Bechdel deftly balances myriad elements–her own memories, childhood journal excerpts (that amazingly manage not to be dull or irritating, but rather deserving of empathy or pity), literary interpretation, humor, and sadness–to tell the story about her family and specifically her father, a complex and intriguing person. It would be easy to read him as a villain if Bechdel didn’t so meticulously make him human and complicated. Further impressing me was that the story jumped back and forth in time, yet was easy to follow. This book is lovely to read both literally and pictorially. It’s a beautiful example of the power of graphic narratives.

3 Responses to “Fun Home by Alison Bechdel”

  1. MFS Says:

    For me, this was one of the most memorable books of 2007. In July, though, when I linked the book and some interviews, etc., I received an angry email message from someone who didn’t appreciate the recommendation. “I will no longer be linking Mental Multivitamin to my blog.”



    A couple of more conservative bloggers followed her lead. *shrug*

    Anyone, great stuff.


    Fun Home at M-mv

  2. MFS Says:

    That would be *anyway*, not *anyone.*

    I swear, my modest little walk sapped me of every last ounce of strength, mentally and physically.


  3. girldetective Says:

    It’s definitely a complex book, and while it’s a brave choice to portray her father so sympathetically, I can see why some would object–he did a lot of hurtful things. But for those who would dismiss the book out of hand because it’s by a homosexual about (at least in part) homosexuality, I think they’re missing out on a mind-opening reading experience.