Fun Home [Book Review]

TitleFun Home
Author: Alison Bechdel
Genre: Graphic memoir
Pages: 232
Year: 2006
Publisher: Mariner Books
Source: Personal Collection
Rating: 4/5

Summary:

When Alison Bechdel is in college, two very big things happen to her. She comes out and her father dies. To her, these are not unrelated. In this graphic novel (well…memoir), she explains why.

My Thoughts:

I am once again faced with the challenge of reviewing a memoir without passing judgment on the author’s life. But, in some ways, Fun Home is only half-memoir, as her father’s story is just as important to her exploration of their relationship. And because she uses a less common medium – the graphic memoir – to tell her story, it makes it a little easier.

At its heart, this is a story about a father and a daughter with a very complicated relationship. But it’s really so much more.

One thing graphic novels/memoirs have going for them is the ability to use visual cues and themes. For example, the repeat image of Bechdel’s father crossing the road seconds before his death made a very powerful, very effective, and very quick reminder of what prompted her story. Ben, who studied this in class and is the reason I read it in the first time, tells me there are all sorts of visual themes, like her pants and the use of photographs.

Another thing that made this book interesting were the literary motifs. Each section of the book uses a book – like Ulysses or The Great Gatsby – to help tell the story. This makes it extra enjoyable for Great Books readers.

*****

I assume a lot of you have read this (it seems to be popular in college/grad school courses these days). What did you think?

8 thoughts on “Fun Home [Book Review]

  1. Kyle January 27, 2014 / 9:45 am

    I read this in an autobiography class I took in college and remember liking it a lot. I think it was my first graphic novel (unless we read Maus first) and I remember not realizing how much can actually be in a GN in terms of symbols, motifs, etc.

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  2. Sandy January 27, 2014 / 12:29 pm

    I loved this book. There was so much dysfunction going on there, so much of Bechdel’s solving her own problems and issues. It really is amazing how DEEP a graphic novel can be. If you want something really impactful, you should read Maus I and II.

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  3. Kailana January 27, 2014 / 2:00 pm

    I really liked this. I thought I owned it, but I must be remembering wrong because I can’t imagine I would get rid of it. I very rarely purge graphic novels! I kind of want to reread it because she has a new book out.

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  4. Kate- Midnightbookgirl January 27, 2014 / 4:10 pm

    I would definitely give this a chance. I’m not a huge fan of memoirs, but I love graphic novels and I like the idea of combining the two. I just read Wild by Cheryl Strayed for book club, which featured a dead parent, so I’m going to have to wait awhile on this one simply because that’s a hard subject for me to read about. But I’m interested in this book now, so thank you for introducing it to me.

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  5. Buried In Print January 27, 2014 / 5:32 pm

    The bookish aspects of this one really appealed to me; they brought out another level of understanding to the narrative, and left me itching to copy out quotes.

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  6. Lu January 28, 2014 / 5:25 pm

    It’s so funny how one line in a review can tip you over from “I’ll read this one day” to “I must read this now.” I never knew about the literary references in Fun Home, but for some reason it makes me want to pick it up immediately.

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  7. Vishy February 4, 2014 / 2:20 pm

    Nice review, Michelle! Bechdel’s book looks wonderful. I think I must be the only person in the universe who hasn’t read it yet. I love the fact that each section of the book uses a classic to help tell the story. I will look forward to reading this book soon.

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