Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

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07FUN HOME A FAMILY TRAGICOMIC may be the latest work through the highly skilled, insightful, neurotic and wry-humored pen of Alison Bechdel, well known for her “Dykes to Watch Out For” comic strip. (One in the longest-running queer comic strips, “Dykes to Watch Out For” is finished 20 years old, is syndicated in countless papers, released in over 10 books, and it is available online with the author’s website.) FUN HOME is Bechdel’s graphically rendered account of accelerating up in rural Pennsylvania inside the 1960s and 70s which has a particular consentrate on influences of her father`s life and death.

Beginning with a few of Bechdel’s earliest memories of her father, readers meet a person who was a smart, emotionally distant yet volatile, narcissistic perfectionist who struggled with secrets. Trapped from the town not simply of his youth but that regarding his ancestors for a lot of generations, Bechdel`s father worked inside family business, a funeral home (known inside family because the “Fun Home”) established by her great-grandfather inside the 19th century. In addition to his fascination with local background historic preservation, Bechdel’s father would have been a closeted gay (or bisexual) man who stood a string of affairs, primarily with younger men, throughout his life.

Divided into seven chapters, because both versions deals with particular themes in the childhood, FUN HOME includes a strong increased exposure of literary references. Chapters weave backwards and forwards in time, revealing issues with Bechdel’s childhood and information her father’s death. Books and literature were a crucial influence in Bechdel’s life maturing. Her father taught English Literature with the local secondary school while her mother studied theater and performed in community plays. The gothic revival home the family unit lived in (and which her father had restored) boasted a library. At some time Bechdel admits, “I employ these [literary] allusions … not just as descriptive devices, but because my parents are most real in my opinion in fictional terms” (66). It becomes apparent that literary discussion was one of the greatest modes of communication between herself and her father.

Bechdel became available to her parents by using a letter inside spring of 1980. Her declaration prompted her mother to say to Bechdel that her father ended up being having affairs with men for many years. Initially, this info appears to are already news to Bechdel, who reflects, “I’d been upstaged, demoted from protagonist during my own drama to comic relief inside my parents’ tragedy” (58). This “upstaging” is revealed being a theme in Bechdel’s life as childhood milestones, including her menarche, were overshadowed by family members preoccupation with and a reaction to her father facing charges of “contributing towards the delinquency of your minor.” Apparently, her father’s closet had not been entirely secret with his fantastic extramarital activities added strain to the household. Her popping out was further upstaged when her father died inside a questionable “accident” (it could have been suicide) just four months after her letter.

Bechdel spent years feeling de-activate yet very guilty regarding her popping out and how it may well have influenced her father’s death. FUN HOME details the outcome of Bechdel’s intellectual and emotional processing of her father’s death, and her relationship on this complex, intelligent, conflicted, and frequently remote man. A powerful instance of her self awareness includes her admission, “[evidence that they was considering suicide months before Bechdel became available] would only concur that his death hasn’t been my fault. That, the truth is, it had not do with me in any respect. And I’m not wanting to let go of that last, tenuous bond” (86).

Book-length graphic stories will not be a mainstay on this reviewer’s reading. However, Bechdel’s clean, distinctive illustration style featuring its wry observations and amusing details is fun to learn and examine, and drew this reader into her story quickly. Indeed, it’s regrettable that it review could only include quotations rather than excerpts of Bechdel’s drawings. Several delightful and revealing images are included, like her grandmother chasing a “piss-ant,” her early identification with Wednesday Addams, summer time of the locusts, her teenaged diary entries, and several facets of her own adolescent self-discoveries. One cannot help but perceive Bechdel. However, in spite of the pain and struggle Bechdel has brought facing her father’s life and death, the novel is neither morose nor depressing. The author found peace with herself regarding her father, her childhood, and who jane is today. As she says inside the dedication (to her mother and brothers) ” We did employ a lot of fun, despite everything.”

FUN HOME is a fantastic graphic memoir that’s engaging, heartrending, funny, and thoughtful. Readers will surely want to stop with the Fun Home because of this viewing.

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