Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

4.1 45
by Alison Bechdel
     
 

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A fresh and brilliantly told memoir from a cult favorite comic artist, marked by gothic twists, a family funeral home, sexual angst, and great books.

This breakout book by Alison Bechdel is a darkly funny family tale, pitch-perfectly illustrated with Bechdel's sweetly gothic drawings. Like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, it's a story exhilaratingly… See more details below

Overview

A fresh and brilliantly told memoir from a cult favorite comic artist, marked by gothic twists, a family funeral home, sexual angst, and great books.

This breakout book by Alison Bechdel is a darkly funny family tale, pitch-perfectly illustrated with Bechdel's sweetly gothic drawings. Like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, it's a story exhilaratingly suited to graphic memoir form.

Meet Alison's father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family's Victorian home, 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 his 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 adolescense, the denouement is swift, graphic -- and redemptive.

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Editorial Reviews

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:
06/05/2007
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
7,863
File size:
118 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

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