Title: Fun Home
Author: Alison Bechdel
Genre: Graphic memoir
Publisher: Mariner Books
Source: Personal Collection
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.
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?