October 2, 2011

Book Review: "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic" By Alison Bechdel


Leo Tolstoy famous first sentence to Anna Karenina is "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel is like no other book I have read. She uses comic strip type images to accompany the story line. It has won Time Magazine's #1 Book of the Year, is a New York Times Best Seller and has been honored by GLAAD.

The Bechdel family ran a funeral home, which they lovingly referred to as the "Fun Home." As if that didn't set the scene for an interesting childhood, Alison's father was a closeted gay man. She would not learn of this information until a few weeks before his death. The story is her struggle to figure out her father, what lead to his death (was it suicide?) and realizing her own homosexuality. It was the '60s so not everyone was experiencing freedom as she later would in college in the '70s.

Her family lived a few hours from New York City in a big historic house which they referred to as a museum. Her father married a woman who was an actress, who mostly did small town plays. He spent his days refurnishing every detail of the house. Her parents were very cold to each other and as she grew up, she began to understand why. Her father had numerous affairs (even with the babysitter) and her mother knew but kept the family going.

Growing up, she kept a vivid diary to help her remember daily events that would later help her write this book. With her father being an English professor, she really appreciates the art of the written word. She references many great novels and compares and contrasts her relationship to her father with Ulysses. It has a beautiful ending.

I highly recommend it if your family has a screwed up dynamic, know anyone gay (closeted or out) or just want to expand your vocabulary. 

What books have you recently read?

2 comments:

  1. Wow, sounds like a good book, but a tough read as well.

    I'm currently reading How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran and really loving it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am currently reading all of the Harry Potters. I looove them!

    ReplyDelete

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