Novel Title: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Publisher: Mariner Books
Writer: Alison Bechdel
Artist: Alison Bechdel
Release Date: 2006
Alison Bechdel’s father has just died. He was struck by a truck while crossing a road. Not long before his death, Alison’s father and mother decided to divorce after he announced he was gay. Now Alison is trying to understand the man who often seemed so cold to her and how it connects to her own life as a lesbian.
The graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic was a huge literary hit. Bechdel’s work was touted by most reviewers and spent time on the New York Times Best Seller’s list. It won Eisner comic awards in addition to being named best book of the year by Time and non-fiction book of the year by Entertainment Weekly.
The wide reaching appeal of Fun Home has to do with Bechdel’s storytelling. It is honest and kind of sad. It portrays a daughter really trying to reach out to her father and never getting that connection despite their unspoken similarities. There is a short period of time between her father’s outing and his death that Buchnel was able to speak to him but most of the conversations were still non-verbal.
It is also an interesting view of the classic “how couldn’t they know” situation that happens whenever someone suddenly “comes out”. Alison’s mother did know. It hadn’t been a secret to her before the marriage and he continued to play around during the marriage. Alison really in a way did know too, but like many didn’t want to know. The events happening around her as a child really didn’t register, but they became clear once she sat down and thought about her life.
Bechdel’s art also does a great time telling the story. It isn’t the most complex art with tons of shading, dramatic composition, and flashy splash pages, but it doesn’t have to be to tell the story. Like the story, the art is honest and simple.
The story does jump all over and isn’t linear. This does cause some problems in aspects of the story where you aren’t sure when events are occurring in the grand scheme of things. The interesting effect this does have is that sometimes, repeated incidents reveal a new light on what was really going on and what Alison wasn’t seeing since she was a child. It also helps deconstruct the thought process on what she thinks happened in the road when her father was killed.
Fun Home is a great non-fiction graphic novel. Like other non-fiction graphic novels like Persepolis and Maus, Fun Home really shows how far the medium of comics can stretch and how they can allow readers to connect to a story. Bechnel released Are You My Mother? in May 2012 which deals with her relationship with her mother.
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