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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic [NOOK Book]

Overview

In this groundbreaking, bestselling graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father. In her hands, personal history becomes a work of amazing subtlety and power, written with controlled force and enlivened with humor, rich literary allusion, and heartbreaking detail.

Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as ...
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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

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Overview

In this groundbreaking, bestselling graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father. In her hands, personal history becomes a work of amazing subtlety and power, written with controlled force and enlivened with humor, rich literary allusion, and heartbreaking detail.

Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the "Fun Home." It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This coming-of-age story cuts across categories. Alison Bechdel's autobiographical "tragicomic" is illustrated with the author's own cartoons and her account of her own maturation is knotted tightly against the bizarre double life of her closeted gay father. Bechdel gained fame as the author of the comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For," but this memoir/family portrait proves that she can straddle genres with ease.
Library Journal
★ 03/01/2014
Bechdel, author of the award-winning comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For, paints her own story in this stunning graphic memoir. Her black-and-white line drawings, brushed with a blue wash, bring to life her childhood with her distant actress mother and her mysterious father, the proprietor of a funeral home. Bechdel's coming-out process is stifled when her father commits suicide, and she realizes that he, too, was gay. One of the best graphic memoirs to date, this book was the basis of a long-running off-Broadway play. (LJ 7/06)
Sean Wilsey
A comic book for lovers of words! Bechdel's rich language and precise images combine to create a lush piece of work — a memoir where concision and detail are melded for maximum, obsessive density. She has obviously spent years getting this memoir right, and it shows. You can read Fun Home in a sitting, or get lost in the pictures within the pictures on its pages. The artist's work is so absorbing you feel you are living in her world.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
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 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Bechdel's memoir offers a graphic narrative of uncommon richness, depth, literary resonance and psychological complexity. Though Bechdel (known for her syndicated "Dykes to Watch Out For" strip and collections) takes her formal cues from comic books, she receives more inspiration from the likes of Proust and Joyce as she attempts to unravel the knots of her family's twisted emotional history. At the core of this compelling narrative is her relationship with her father, a literary-minded high-school teacher who restores and runs the familial funeral parlor. (It is also the family's residence and the "fun home" of the title.) Beneath his icy reserve and fussy perfectionism, he is a barely closeted homosexual and a suspected pedophile, an imposing but distant presence to his young daughter, who finds that their main bond is a shared literary sensibility. As she comes of age as an artist and comes to terms with her own sexual identity, Bechdel must also deal with the dissolution of her parents' marriage and, soon afterward, her father's death. Was it an accident or was it suicide? How did her father's sexuality shape her own? Rather than proceeding in chronological fashion, the memoir keeps circling back to this central relationship and familial tragedy, an obsession that the artist can never quite resolve or shake. The results are painfully honest, occasionally funny and penetratingly insightful. Feminists, lesbians and fans of underground comics will enthusiastically embrace this major advance in Bechdel's work, which should significantly extend both her renown and her readership. Though this will likely be stocked with graphic novels, it shares as much in spirit with the work of Mary Karr,Tobias Wolff and other contemporary memoirists of considerable literary accomplishment.
From the Publisher
"[Alison Bechdel] hits notes that resemble Jeanette Winterson at her best...She's made a story that's quiet [and] dignified." Publishers Weekly, Starred

"[With] uncommon richness [and] depth...[Fun Home] shares as much in spirit with...other contemporary memoirists of considerable literary accomplishment." Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“Alison Bechdel – she’s one of the best, one to watch out for."—Harvey Pekar

"If David Sedaris could draw, and if Bleak House had been a little funnier, you'd have Alison Bechdel's Fun Home."—Amy Bloom, author of A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You

"Brave and forthright and insightful—exactly what Alison Bechdel does best."—Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

"Stupendous...mesmerizing...The details...are devastatingly captured by an artist in total control of her craft."—Chip Kidd, author of The Cheese Monkeys

"One of the very best graphic novels ever." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

"Fun Home must be the most ingeniously compact, hyper-verbose example of autobiography to have been produced. . . . pioneering."—Sean Wilsey The New York Times Book Review

TIME Best Book of the Year: "A masterpiece about two people who live in the same house but different worlds, and their mysterious debts to each other." Time Magazine

"One of the best memoirs of the decade ... at once hypercontrolled and utterly intimate."—New York Magazine, 10 Best Books of 2006 New York Magazine

"Fun Home must be the most ingeniously compact, hyper-verbose example of autobiography to have been produced ... a pioneering work."—Sean Wilsey The New York Times Book Review

"A revelation ... feels like a true literary achievement, something with characters who baffle and disappoint and break hears the way people do in life and in the best of prose." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"Graphic storytelling at its most profound."—a Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of 2006 The Los Angeles Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547347004
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/5/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 50,006
  • File size: 113 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Alison Bechdel
ALISON BECHDEL has been a careful archivist of her own life and kept a journal since she was ten. Since 1983 she has been chronicling the lives of various characters in the fictionalized “Dykes to Watch Out For” strip, “one of the preeminent oeuvres in the comics genre, period” (Ms.). The strip is syndicated in 50 alternative newspapers, translated into multiple languages, and collected into a book series with a quarter of a million copies in print. Utne magazine has listed DTWOF as “one of the greatest hits of the twentieth century.”

Alison Bechdel is the author of the bestselling memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, which was named a Best Book of the Year by Time, Entertainment Weekly, New York Times, People, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Village Voice, and San Francisco Chronicle, among others. For twenty-five years, she wrote and drew the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, a visual chronicle of modern life—queer and otherwise—considered "one of the preeminent oeuvres in the comics genre, period." (Ms.)  Bechdel is guest editor of Best American Comics, 2011, and has drawn comics for Slate, McSweeney's, Entertainment Weekly,  Granta, and The New York Times Book Review. 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 39 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(20)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 16, 2012

    A good read, but not a great read

    I was recommended Bechdel's Fun Home by a former English teacher of mine. As a fairly avid reader, I was excited to see what this book had to show me. They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I couldn't help but to be captivated by all of the praise and awards on the memoir's front and back cover as I initially looked it over. To my great dismay, the book ended up being kind of a disappointment. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Bechdel - her honest writing style and literary knowledge are both interesting and impressive, but the memoir simply did not resonate with me. I don't really know what to think of this memoir; there were aspects of the book that I really loved, and other aspects that were hard to sit through, but there was nothing about this memoir that I found to be particularly gripping. I will say that I am extremely impressed with the amount of hard work that went into this memoir. The graphic novel layout (drawn by Bechdel herself) is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and really shows how arduous it must have been to create. Bechdel's story is so well thought out that it is obvious that she has spent a lot of time preparing herself to write this memoir. My biggest disappointment with this memoir was that I found nothing enticing about Bechdel's story. I think Ms. Bechdel told her story of her troubled past with her father to have closure with her upbringing, as opposed to appealing to her readers. I didn't find this book to be extremely funny or extremely sad, it was a monotonous read, which is fine, but I was really looking for a gripping memoir similar to so many that I have read before. All in all, I would say that Fun Home is a story that is either hit or miss for readers. I think that many will enjoy Alison's story and appreciate her quirkiness, but others will simply just not see what all the hype is about.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2008

    an acquired taste

    I was introduced to this book by my former roomate who grew up not too far from where Bechdel grew up and where most of the book takes place. At first I was weary of a graphic novel but I was enthralled by her use of elevated language and literary comparision. Each time I read it I find something new, if not within the text then the pictures themselves. Her novel peeked my interest in her other works and have become a Bechdel fan. I had the pleasure of meeting her and I must say she is a woman of great intelligence and is suprisingly humble. I would agree that this book is not for everybody. But those with open minds able to appreciate a non-tradtional book with an equally different story then please by all means go forth and enjoy this book!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2006

    A thought provoking journey

    A brilliant escapade into the life a young woman and an exploration of finding herself. Beautiful and far more reading intensive then other Graphic Novels/Memoirs, Fun home is beautiful in everyway. The parallels between Joyce, Fitzgerald, James, and many others is astounding. Not since Blankets have I fell in love with a Graphic Novel to this magnitude and not in a long while have I read something this eloquent, brilliant, and poigant.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    Jessie

    She curtsied, chain clinking against her angles. She lowered her head and looked at him under thick eyelashes. "Master", she said with a small smile. Dark cyrls falling into her face...

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    What a Surprise!

    I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. A friend had given it to me well over a year ago and it's been sitting on my desk waiting for the right time. I guess yesterday was the right time, because I picked it up and finished it all in one sitting. I just couldn't put it down.

    I never dreamed that seeing the artist's interpretation of actual events could be so beautiful and honest and authentic. It isn't by any means a happy story, but very relatable!

    LOVED IT!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2007

    A reviewer

    I read this book as part of my book club reading. We've read a number of memoirs and I was expecting something with the same depth as the previous memoirs that we've read. I was sorely disappointed. I don't know where the 'hilarity' or the tragedy that the publisher mentions comes in at. I didn't find it anywhere. I didn't dislike the book, but I found it very benign - neither funny nor tragic. There was nothing that gripped me to draw me into the story. I read it in 2 sittings, but that's because it's such an easy read and I wanted to finish it so I could get on with the book I'd been reading and thoroughly enjoying. Fun Home was merely the author's story - just like anyone else's story. Maybe we don't all have closet-gay fathers or fathers who die violent deaths, but we all have stories. Yes, her analogies to Ulysses & The Odyssey were insightful and I enjoyed that, but those were the highlights. I felt like she wrote the book more to help herself come to terms with her life than to be of any interest to her readers.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2006

    Breathtaking

    I have been a fan of Ms. Bechdel for years, and I have collected all the books in her Dykes To Watch Out For series. I wasn't sure how she'd handle her autobiography, and I was pleasantly surprised to see she drew it in comic form, the same as her DTWOF series.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2014

    Jake

    Waits he has blonde haor grey eyes tall muscular

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2013

    I expect a bit more from something repeatedly called ¿dark comed

    I expect a bit more from something repeatedly called “dark comedy.” The Fun House is Gothic and is a funeral home, but this isn’t Six Feet Under. The story is dark but there is little humor. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had not been under the illusion it was “darkly funny.” 

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  • Posted July 8, 2013

    The images in Alison Bechdel¿s graphic novel told whole stories

    The images in Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel told whole stories in the people’s expressions. The narration is sharp and explores her stressed relationship with her father. It’s a pity he didn’t live to see his daughter mature into the artist she is today. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012

    Great

    Very moving. The way she writes and the way she draws really gives you an insight into her childhood.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2012

    brilliant

    In every way.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    ;)

    LOVED THIS BOOK! Poetic and deeply personal story.

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  • Posted April 23, 2010

    A Marvellous Memoir

    This book is highly recommended.
    When it comes to biographies, Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home" really belongs in a class of its own. It is funny, sweet, brave, honest and memorable.
    It combines a very personal journey with a fascinating family drama. If it had only been a prose novel, it would rank among my favourite memoirs. As a "graphic novel" it is a work of stark beauty and mastery of the artform.
    Some people may be nervous about the subject matter. I understand this may not be for everone.
    I think that you read this book and try to be as brave as the courageous woman who wrote this wonderful book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2009

    A Masterpiece

    Expertly structured around a growing consciousness rather than a linear narrative, this book transcends both the genres of ``graphic novel'' and ``gay lit.'' If you can find the hardcover, it's worth a few extra bucks to get the subtly die-cut dust jacket over the orange illustrated cloth cover.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2007

    What is all the fuss about?

    I don't understand why this book has gotten so many awards. Maybe, it's because the book is definately different then the many others I have read. I found it to be boring and inconsistent. I was very dissapointed with this book.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2007

    A reviewer

    This tragically hilarious tale completely enraptured me from the beginning. Previously, I had never read any of Ms. Bechdel's works, but I was intrigued by the premise. I read the entire book from start to finish in one go. It is so beautifully moving! The themes of estrangement, alienation and family can resinate with anyone, no matter what sexual orientation. I highly recommend it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews

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