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Paperback Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Book

ISBN: B007CKHM1G

ISBN13: 9780618871711

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

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Book Overview

A fresh and brilliantly told memoir from a cult favorite comic artist, marked by gothic twists, a family funeral home, sexual angst, and great books. This breakout book by Alison Bechdel is a darkly funny family tale, pitch-perfectly illustrated with Bechdel's sweetly gothic drawings. Like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, it's a story exhilaratingly suited to graphic memoir form. Meet Alison's father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Amazing book!! But, beware of previous owner's graffiti.

I love this book! It's really engaging- the illustration is excellent and captivating, even with the limited color palette. However, I would advise against purchasing a "Good" quality book- mine came with writing on every single page, it looks like it was a required reading book for some schools. :(

A Viewing You Won't Want to Miss!

FUN HOME A FAMILY TRAGICOMIC is the latest work from the highly skilled, insightful, neurotic and wry-humored pen of Alison Bechdel, best known for her "Dykes to Watch Out For" comic strip. (One of the longest-running queer comic strips, "Dykes to Watch Out For" is over 20 years old, has been syndicated in hundreds of papers, released in over 10 books, and is available online via the author's website.) FUN HOME is Bechdel's graphically rendered account of growing up in rural Pennsylvania in the 1960s and 70s with a particular focus on influences of her father`s life and death. Beginning with some of Bechdel's earliest memories of her father, readers meet a man who was an intelligent, emotionally distant yet volatile, narcissistic perfectionist who struggled with secrets. Trapped in the town not only of his youth but that of his ancestors for several generations, Bechdel`s father worked in the family business, a funeral home (known in the family as the "Fun Home") established by her great-grandfather in the 19th century. In addition to his interest in local history and historic preservation, Bechdel's father was a closeted gay (or bisexual) man who had a string of affairs, primarily with younger men, throughout his life. Divided into seven chapters, each of which deals with particular themes in her childhood, FUN HOME contains a strong emphasis on literary references. Chapters weave back and forth in time, revealing aspects of Bechdel's childhood and details of her father's death. Books and literature were an important influence in Bechdel's life growing up. Her father taught English Literature at the local high school while her mother studied theater and performed in community plays. The gothic revival home the family lived in (and which her father had restored) boasted a library. At one point Bechdel admits, "I employ these [literary] allusions ... not only as descriptive devices, but because my parents are most real to me in fictional terms" (66). It becomes apparent that literary discussion was one of the primary modes of communication between herself and her father. Bechdel came out to her parents via a letter in the spring of 1980. Her declaration prompted her mother to point out to Bechdel that her father had been having affairs with men for years. Initially, this information appears to have been news to Bechdel, who reflects, "I'd been upstaged, demoted from protagonist in my own drama to comic relief in my parents' tragedy" (58). This "upstaging" is revealed as a theme in Bechdel's life as childhood milestones, such as her menarche, were overshadowed by the family preoccupation with and response to her father facing charges of "contributing to the delinquency of a minor." Apparently, her father's closet was not entirely secret and his extramarital activities added strain to the family. Her coming out was further upstaged when her father died in a questionable "accident" (it may have been suicide) just four months after her letter

Brilliant and new.

From Alison Bechdel, author of the comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For," comes a memoir of coming out and coming to terms with both the life and death of her closeted father. The funny "gay" memoir seems to be the latest trend, and I'll admit that I approached this book with more than a little trepidation. However, "Fun Home" has proven a happy surprise, a unique and first rate comic work by a truly serious artist. It took me awhile to set down and attempt to put into words what I found so special about this book. First, this is a graphic book (a "comic" book if you will), and one that is equal parts graphic and comic in its depiction of a very real American family. Being raised in a funeral home in small town America could prove a challenge for anyone. Being an adolescent girl awakening to her own lesbianism with a closet case father who is both your High School English teacher and the local funeral director, is the stuff of great literature. The author has an acute sense of the absurd, and an unparralleld ability to communicate life's little ironies. Without ever losing affection for her emotionally remote parents, Bechdel cuts to the heart of the matter and draws them warts and all. "Fun Home" is a genuine marvel, a truly tragicomic memoir and one of the highlights of the publishing year thus far. Don't miss it.

Unique tale of dysfunctional childhood of a talented author.

Quiz time: Name three things that Alison Bechdel (author/cartoonist behind the fabulous "Dykes To Watch Out For") had in common with Claire, the daughter on "Six Feet Under". Answer: They both had two brothers, their fathers were killed by being hit by a large motor vehicle, and both grew up living in the family funeral home. In Alison's case, the kids shortened the name of the latter to the "Fun Home", which she had made the title of her beautifully illustrated autobiographical work. It deals mostly with her relationship with her father, a fastidious and seemingly cold and distant man who inherited the family funderal business, although he also worked as a high school English teacher. His main passion, however, was restoring and decorating period buildings in their small Pennsylvania town, first the town museum and later a big gothic mansion in which he moved his family during the renovations. Alison's mother was also emotionally distant, and the family members rarely showed any affection toward each other, a burden that Alison dealt with throughout her life. It wasn't until was in college and discovered her lesbianism, and wrote home to tell her parents about it, that she was clued in on a secret his parents had been trying to hide all those years: her father was also gay, and the changing cast of students and other young men he had around him as "helpers" for the renovations were really his lovers. This revelation triggers a new attempt to get closer to him, and she does manage that to an extent, right before his accident, which she believes was really a premeditated act of suicide. A heartfelt and emotionally powerful story, told with great feeling and honesty by a talented author. I had some doubts about dealing with a self-described "tragicomic" (the book is fully illustrated with six panels per each of the 232 pages), but the author is apparently so comfortable with that medium that it allows her to tell her story to its best, and provides amazing detail and clarity to the events she relates. Five stars out of five.

A book to watch out for

Wow. I've been trying to figure out how to start this review, but every opening sounds like it's belittling: "Proving that she can do more than her comic strip ..." or "Moving beyond her "Dykes"..." does a great disservice to Bechdel and the comic strip world she has been superbly chronicling for the past twenty-odd years. Bechdel isn't moving beyond anything here; she's just done something different. It shouldn't come as any surprise that Bechdel is capable of producing such a great work -- she has proved time and again in both her comic strip and other media (her hilarious and much missed wall calendars from the 90s) that she can blend words, drama and humor as sharply as any. The surprise to me here is just how deeply Bechdel allows us to glimpse into her life. "Fun Home" is no easy narrative: the story of Bechdel's family and especially her difficult father bends, buckles and then turns to reveal more truth as each chapter goes by. The art and detail are so well done that I didn't feel as though I was looking at pen and ink drawings but real photos reminiscent of Italian "fumetti" comics. When the book ended, I felt the need to go over it again and put the pieces together like a puzzle. I first discovered Bechdel when I was a junior in college 15 years ago and I've been following her work ever since. Part of me wants to selfishly keep her as one of my own, somebody that I discovered before the mainstream and after I died, friends and family would find her books among my collection and think, "This is brilliant, if only we'd read her years ago!" I'll probably spend the next few months saying, "You liked 'Fun Home'? Amateur! *I've* been reading Bechdel since 1991." But this book (and Bechdel's work in general) deserves a wide audience and all the success it gets. Bravo Alison, bravo.

Sharp as a tack, and twice as painful

This is a sharp, literate, excruciating, and mature piece of autobiography, which should with any justice nudge Alison Bechdel from cult favorite to widespread critical recognition. Her always appealing and humane art is given emotional depth and shadow with a layer of ink wash, which Houghton Mifflin has thankfully payed out to print in faded royal blue. In terms of content, Bechdel ably and appropriately includes themes from Proust, Joyce, Homer, and F.Scott Fitzgerald as she strip-mines the contorted relationship between her younger self and her English teacher father. This is a work of real emotional honesty, paired with a professional execution. It's also a welcome change from the relentless brand of masculine self-loathing dished out by R.Crumb and Harvey Pekar, and more mature than the delicate, achingly self-aware recent works by Craig Thompson. The overall quality and insight of the work brings it beyond being just a female, feminist, or queer genre piece (all of which Bechdel has done with great aplomb in the past); with any luck it should make itself felt across the demographic bar chart.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Mentions in Our Blog

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic in 12 Books About Families that Take Dysfunction to a New Level
12 Books About Families that Take Dysfunction to a New Level
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • December 18, 2019

You may be gearing up for some boisterous (read volatile) holiday get-togethers with the family. How about some stories of highly dysfunctional clans to get you in the right frame of mind? Here are twelve books that will leave you thinking, "Well, we're not that bad!"

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic in Not Just For Kids
Not Just For Kids
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • July 10, 2019

Comic books aren't all superheroes and dystopian fantasy. Here are ten gorgeous graphic novels featuring powerful storylines that are complex, emotional, and educational.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic in 10 Titles You Lit-erally Need to Read
10 Titles You Lit-erally Need to Read
Published by Eva • September 14, 2015

Five words you never want to hear in a comparative lit class?

"Yeah, going off of that..."

Which, when translated to normal human speak, actually means "This in no way relates to the point you just made, but I really love to hear myself talk." Every English major knows the scenario: The class circles up after reading (or not reading) a beautifully crafted piece of literature, and an intellectually-indulged twenty-something decides to hijack the discussion with the deluded idea that they have the book completely figured out. But the thing about great literature is that no one has managed to totally figure it out – that's why it stands apart as a selection of work that we all keep coming back to. Plus nothing kills an engaging class discussion quite like an unchecked know-it-all. Whether you're the type of student who's read the book before it was assigned, or who only highlights quotes they find on sparknotes, these ten works of literature are worth a second (or third) read. And here's a plus; two of them are comic books.

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