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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

4.0 48
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


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.

Editorial Reviews

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

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.
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.
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)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition 001 Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

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.”

Customer Reviews

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Fun Home 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Jackie2794 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
wagnerclassiccars More than 1 year ago
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.” 
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 3 months ago
B and N is getting alot better than they used to be i still cant beleive it theyve got better
Sandy5 5 months ago
This wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. I found myself enjoying parts of this graphic novel and then later, I found myself wondering exactly what I was reading. It seemed to have weird transitions between scenes which threw me off and some of the topics were redundant. Overall, not a good novel for me. Alison has been watching her parent’s interactions and the lives that they lead and she has decided that she does not want to follow the same paths that they took. Alison is set free by this realization and she’s on a mission. Our novel explodes with her new vocabulary as she conducts research, with detailed illustrations we see her new identity being exposed and Alison herself has never felt so liberated. It’s time for Alison to tell her family that she is a lesbian but the news is not as startling as what occurs after Alison’s statement.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While it is no doubt of some theraputic value to the author to write this book the reader might do better to keep a three week journel then tear it up unread this is one of the material ways to reduce stress in conjuntion with one on one theraoy group and before meds can kick in why buy when you can do your own why dysfunctional is considered funny however comedy is itself cruel and even the kings fool was in danger if he went too far
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sunpensun More than 1 year ago
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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Very moving. The way she writes and the way she draws really gives you an insight into her childhood.
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LOVED THIS BOOK! Poetic and deeply personal story.
MrPotter07 More than 1 year ago
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!
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