Fun Home – A Family Tragicomic
I completely missed the best book of the year in 2006. Not only is the book terrific, but Fun Home is a graphic novel that draws you in (pun intended) and settles you with characters both familiar and unfamiliar.
By Alison Bechdel
Year of Release: 2006
The title refers to the family-owned funeral home. When not running the family business, Bechdel's father is an English teacher. Her mother is also a teacher and does a lot of amateur acting. You would think that this would be enough to command your attention. But the story is an autobiography. The pivotal moment in her life comes as she realizes she is a lesbian in college. When she comes out to her parents, her mother writes an oblique letter that references her father's relationships with other men and sadly boys.
Bechdel's drawing style is similar to Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury. These aren't comics or distorted images, but authentic memories brought to life in an extraordinary visual way. Bechdel's father dies shortly after her own revelation. Fun Home mines her childhood experience to understand the path her life has taken. She is also haunted by the choices her father may or may not have made.
Fun Home is an unflinching look at growing up in a house of secrets, regrets and love.
Alison Bechdel is the creator of the long-running syndicated comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, which has been collected in an award-winning series of books. Bechdel was recently named a MacArthur fellow. Fun Home was Time magazines #1 book of the year and a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist.