- File Size: 404831 KB
- Print Length: 232 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (June 5, 2007)
- Publication Date: June 5, 2007
- Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00DYEC8MC
- Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
- Word Wise: Not Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,651 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Kindle & comiXology
|Length: 232 pages||Age Level: 15 and up||Grade Level: 9 and up|
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"[With] uncommon richness [and] depth...[Fun Home] shares as much in spirit with...other contemporary memoirists of considerable literary accomplishment." Kirkus Reviews, Starred
“Alison Bechdel – she’s one of the best, one to watch out for." --Harvey Pekar
"If David Sedaris could draw, and if Bleak House had been a little funnier, you'd have Alison Bechdel's Fun Home." --Amy Bloom, author of A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You
"Brave and forthright and insightful--exactly what Alison Bechdel does best." --Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
"Stupendous...mesmerizing...The details...are devastatingly captured by an artist in total control of her craft." --Chip Kidd, author of The Cheese Monkeys
"One of the very best graphic novels ever." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
"Fun Home must be the most ingeniously compact, hyper-verbose example of autobiography to have been produced. . . . pioneering." --Sean Wilsey The New York Times Book Review
TIME Best Book of the Year: "A masterpiece about two people who live in the same house but different worlds, and their mysterious debts to each other." Time Magazine
"One of the best memoirs of the decade ... at once hypercontrolled and utterly intimate." --New York Magazine, 10 Best Books of 2006 New York Magazine
"Fun Home must be the most ingeniously compact, hyper-verbose example of autobiography to have been produced ... a pioneering work." --Sean Wilsey The New York Times Book Review
"A revelation ... feels like a true literary achievement, something with characters who baffle and disappoint and break hears the way people do in life and in the best of prose." Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Graphic storytelling at its most profound." --a Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of 2006 The Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Alison Bechdel’s cult following for her early comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For expanded wildly for her family memoirs, the best-selling graphic memoir Fun Home, adapted into a Tony Award-winning musical, and Are You My Mother? Bechdel has been named a MacArthur Fellow and Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont, among many other honors.
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Fun Home is Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir of her life growing up. Fun home is what she and her brothers called the family-owned funeral home her dad ran. This was the first adult graphic novel I’ve read. (And by adult, I mean for grown-ups, NOT porn.) I was really surprised how drawn into it I was. I didn’t realize that characters could be so defined in the graphic format. I really felt for Alison, having to grow up with such distant, detached parents. Her pain and confusion over her father’s death jumps off the page.
The only way that Alison and her father relate to one another is through a mutual love of books and reading. Fun Home is peppered with literary references and comparisons that went completely over my head. Once again I’m pulling the “I was an accounting major so I didn’t read any classics in college card”. If you have, you may enjoy the references and Alison’s book will have even more meaning for you. However, I still liked this book a lot anyway.
There were a few nude drawings in this book, when Alison figures out she’s a lesbian and starts having relationships with women. However, Alison is a talented illustrator and they looked like works of art in my opinion. If the scenes had been described using words, they would have been much more graphic. I am applying Justice Potter Stewart’s “I know it when I see it” test of obscenity and this ain’t it.
As far as the homosexual themes in the book goes, yes this is a memoir written by a lesbian about her relationship with her gay dad. It’s a gay book. But isn’t one of the great things about reading learning about people who are different than you? Reading helps one develop a deep sense of empathy. Maybe you might even learn that people you once thought were evil are not. Maybe that’s a scary thought for some people and they would rather live in their insulated bubbles. I’m glad I’m not one of those people. However, I should thank the students at Duke for alerting me to this book’s existence.
Put Fun Home on your list of challenged books that must be read!
Something about those cutesy drawings gave me the pre read impression that this was going to be funny, quirky, maybe light hearted. No. An intense examination of the author’s own family, ugly gashes of violence, mental illness, a father leading a sordid double life, an actor mother who is remote and hard to know. There’s also the author’s discovery of her sexuality via a very intellectual route during college.
Images stay with me of isolated siblings, alone but together in a museum-like Gothic Revival home where her father treated the antique furniture like his children and his children like castoff furniture. A crazy set of drawings where she kisses her father’s knuckles because she feels the need to show affection but has never been shown how. There are happy times of vacations and children at play but even those are odd because of the backdrop of the family’s funeral home.
I thought the truest part of the book were the drawings of the author as a little girl compulsively counting and gesturing in public to ward off bad luck and sadly, scribbling symbols over her own journal words as if to scratch out herself in some kind of way.
What will stay with me is the ever present longing to connect that’s prevalent throughout the book. I need to reread this one at some point because there’s too much for only one look.
"Fun Home" is an entertaining and poignant autobiography of Bechdel's childhood. Her family owns a funeral home in a small town so her father works as an English teacher, her mother an actress. They buy a charming fixer-upper which her father lovingly devotes much of his spare time to restoring to grandeur often enlisting Alison for assistance. Much more, this is Alison's story of growing up as she starts to realize she is a lesbian, her coming out as well as learning that her father was a "closeted" gay man. Her father dies after being hit by a car and Alison wonders whether this was an accident or suicide, unable to fully express himself and his true sexual orientation. It is also about the unspoken bonds between Alison and her dad after she tells her parents she is gay --- she can never quite come to ask him about his sexual orientation and he never directly broaches the subject with her before his death. The illustrations only serve to enhance the development of the Alison and her family and deepen the emotional engagement with their struggles. There are moments of sadness, but more moments of joy and discovery to be found in this exceptional autobiography.
Top international reviews
From the start there are pointers that her life is developing into a tragic tale. We are left in no doubt that her father was a complicated man with many internal torments.
The language is rich and luxurious with the great use of some unusual words (one or two even had me looking up definitions).
I've now read a few graphic books and think this book is put together brilliantly. The words and pictures both add to each other. There is great detail in the graphics as well, many of which add more to the story than the words can alone.
There is much tragedy but it is related in a blackly humorous way (man times crossing back and forward the line between comedy and tragedy).
The narrative sections break into four types: the overall story telling, dialogue in speech bubbles, occasional explanatory notes and labels highlighting an element of a drawing.
Essentially the book is about a father and daughter relationship. They struggle to come to terms with their differences whilst refusing to acknowledge their obvious similarities. Much of the commonality is around literature and the arts, leading to a few points where the author relies too heavily on literary references. However, I very much liked the reliance on the artistic talents in the family, particularly the mother's acting which allows her to step away from her real world.
What strikes me most about this book is the depth of emotion that is written into every, carefully chosen, word. It can be a cliche to say that the process of writing is cathartic but, with this book, that feels appropriate.
She was a literature student, so if you're a literature buff you will probably enjoy a lot of references that likely went straight over my head. I'm guessing there was probably a lot deeper thematic references I'm missing not actually being as well read as I'd like to be.
But even if you aren't a literary buff, it's a story that takes you on an proper journey and by the end of it my heart is with hers and I feel the beauty of the pain from which she writes, without ever screaming about. Couldn't recommend it more.
The story is compelling as well, a memoir told in a comic strip format which works really well. The author/artist is relating the story of her childhood growing up with her father and mother in her family's funeral home. Her father is also a homosexual and conducts a number of affairs with younger men throughout his married life. The story, the author seems keen to inform the reader, is her interpretation of her history. There is, it seemed to me, a covert allusion to the fact that some of her story might be false, because, as we all know, memory can be flawed and one can only ever represent one understanding of it. I loved the way her father seemed to see her family life (according to her) as "a still life with children" - family seemed, to him, to be a work of art - as was her father's refurbishment of the house they lived in. This is an unusual memoir and one I would definitely recommend.
Her 2006 graphic memoir Fun Home actually represents two genres, one that is not widely read and another that is growing in strength, so much so that US colleges have added it to their reading lists for liberal arts students. Fun Home attracted criticism from more conservative students, who disagree with its sexual content and imagery. The fact that colleges believe students can learn from a graphic novel—and the novel can cause such a stir—is a testament to its ingenuity.
Bechdel sees no need to tell the story of her father’s death, the emergence of her own homosexuality and everything that led up to the two in a linear fashion. Instead, she zips between her family home, the title funeral home, her college classes and trips away with her mother, father and siblings, choosing to join the chapters by her feelings towards particular situations or events rather than in any traditional sequence. The story centres around the death of Bechdel’s father and what it means to her. Bechdel’s journeys into the past reveal a father who preferred to restore houses than spend time with his daughter, and who slept with men, often his students, behind the back of his wife and family.
Fun Home delivers the tragedy in Bechdel’s life with comedic aplomb, illustrating key scenes from her childhood and adolescence in a cartoon style that harks back to the comics that came before. Particularly revealing is a snapshot of a certain letter from father to daughter, because his indecipherable handwriting means all the reader has is the narrator’s reflections. Lacking context, Bechdel’s narrator must be relied upon, and the next page reveals the last time she saw her father, in an illustration that shows them getting on as well as they can, sat next to each other playing the piano. “It was unusual, and we were close. But close enough,” remarks Bechdel’s narrator.
The strength of Fun Home is in its yearning to understand fatherhood and sexuality and everything else that goes on during the chronicled period of Bechdel’s life. Her narrator never settles on definitive conclusions—it’s not entirely clear if Bechdel’s father committed suicide or was the victim of an accident—but prefers somewhere in the middle, which is both a challenge and a joy for the reader, who too wants to understand where Bechdel’s narrator is coming from, and is likely going next.
Besides the cartoonish illustrations and dry dialogue is a narration that touches on literature of all kinds, as Bechdel likens texts and passages to points in her own time. What’s created is a flowing story that peaks and troughs and runs wild and streams slowly, as Bechdel’s narrator attempts to grow closer to her father, and if not, understand him, and failing that, hate him. When that doesn’t work, she learns to be like him. And the reader is left wondering if there was really anything wrong at all.
This comic book embraces Proust, its memory of the fine detail of family life, of lost times, that small events can bring back. Events that seem straightforward, now have to be reworked and given new meaning in the light of his daughter's belated discovery that her father led a double life. It is an astonishingly unconventional childhood in many ways - its aspiration to the artistic, its obsession with renovation of history, it am-dram focus, literature, and sideline in secret sex with teenage boys. All against a stage set background of the `Fun Home'- too macabre to invent - her dad's second job running his own part-time funeral parlour out in the sticks.
But this is social history too - just like Dykes to Watch Out For - it records a time when people really did lead meticulously covert lives - when everything might depend upon appearances and fear of exposure was real.
For any fans of the musical who might be considering the book, it has a slightly more melancholic tone, but I'm sure you'll still thoroughly enjoy it.
The line between fact and fiction is often blurred, amounting to a hybrid narrative where the actual story gets written on a piece of literary work. Allison herself admits that "The line that dad drew between reality and fiction was indeed a blurry one. To understand this, one had only to enter his library" (pg.59). The reliability of Bechdel in using examples from "The Great Gatsby", "Fitzgerald" and "Ulysses" to name a few, may be problematic to readers who have not immersed in such literatures hence a gap in being in tandem with Allison's mind track. However, it does not completely discredit the stark similarities and comparisons to characters in the books mentioned, after all to understand Mr Bechdel, is to know his library. The sexual identity and gender expression of BOTH Allison and her father become center stage, and it is sort of a double thread being knitted into this tapestry of 'Identity Awakening'. Themes like suppression, secrecy, humiliation, conformity, liberation, bravery, are indeed a mirror image of the two charters- in total opposites. Ironic?
Both of them get an almost equal narrative of sexual history. I like the way Bechdel uses Allison as the "lesbian" narrator to illustrate her own sexuality and gender expression, by intersecting the life story of her father, a closet gay, with her constant cue of "disjoined love" with him. It is an interesting chart of sexual histories, sometimes breaking stereotypes and norms, but also sometimes reinforces causal theories of homosexuality- Bruce's molestation.
I bought it after discovering the musical of the same name and it is a great addition to the information I had gained through experiencing the musical.
Perfect for Bechdel fans and theatre fans alike!