Fun Home

Fun Home

A Family Tragicomic

Graphic Novel - 2006
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This book takes its place alongside the unnerving, memorable, darkly funny family memoirs of Augusten Burroughs and Mary Karr. It's a father-daughter tale perfectly suited to the graphic memoir form. Meet Alison's father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family's Victorian house, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter's complex yearning for her father. And yet, apart from assigned stints dusting caskets at the family-owned 'fun home,' as Alison and her brothers call it, the relationship achieves its most intimate expression through the shared code of books. When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescence, the denouement is swift, graphic, and redemptive.--From publisher description.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, [2006]
Copyright Date: ©2006
ISBN: 9780618477944
0618477942
9780618871711
0618871713
Branch Call Number: 741.5973 B3872F 2006
Characteristics: 232 pages : chiefly illustrations ; 24 cm

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From Library Staff

An unusual memoir done in the form of a graphic novel by a cult favorite comic artist offers a darkly funny family portrait that details her relationship with her father, a historic preservation expert dedicated to restoring the family's Victorian home, funeral home director, high-school English ... Read More »

In this groundbreaking, bestselling graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father. Bechdel's "Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama" and "The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For" are also available as digital downloads.

Bechdel’s graphic novel memoir explores her fraught relationship with her perfectionist father who reveals to his daughter that he is gay shortly before he dies, a revelation that coincides with Bechdel’s coming-out as a lesbian.


From the critics


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I was looking forward to discussing this book with my fellow bookclub members...and, then, Covid-19 happened. The graphic novel is without color. Is it drawn in grays as symbolism of the fact Alison Bechdel's life and relationships are not "black or white"? That she is living in the gray areas of society? The gray areas of familial relationships? I'd like to thinks so.
The novel delves into the perplexities of family relationships. From the child to adult perspective in trying to comprehend how these 2 persons became husband and wife and, then, her parents. From the child to adult perspective of trying to comprehend her father. Her coming to understand herself.
The funniest part I had was tracking all the books in this novel. You start to realize that the author is clearly showing the readers titles of books shelved in the family library, books her father is reading, books in the public library, books she is reading. Books are providing the context and definition of her father and of the author and of all the relationships in book.
I recommend this book. I would have loved to discuss this one with the bookclub.

l
lcarmody
Jul 01, 2020

A memoir, in graphic novel form. Definitely not a comedy, despite the title - but the title is ambiguous, isn't it? Does it imply that it is comic in a comical sense or comic in a graphic sense? I'd say more the latter. It also deftly asserts that it is tragedy and I can't argue entirely with that.

I don't read a lot of memoirs, and certainly few of them are in graphic novel format, so this was interesting and unusual. Bechdel reveals complicated, conflicted, ambivalent feelings about her father, which is the primary focus of the narrative. Although she also explores her relationship with her mother, their family dynamic generally, literature, and her experience coming of age and discovering her nascent sexuality, all of these are linked back to her father's identity and presence and developed with overlapping lenses in which she ponders his closeted homosexuality, personality traits, and possible suicide. Troubled parental relationships (especially with a deceased parent) are a difficult topic to address, where dislike, love, disgust, admiration, and disappointment tangle together in unresolved, uncomfortable finality. Unlike some other readers, I did not find the exploration herein merely masturbatory, and I thought Bechdel's literary parallels were adequately developed, rather than pretension. For what it was trying to do, I think this succeeded, and that better than average.

IndyPL_SteveB May 04, 2020

An award-winning combination of memoir and graphic novel, about a young woman’s relationship with her domineering, emotionally distant father. Both have secrets – her father, Bruce, is a closeted gay high school teacher and part-time mortician. Alison knows she is “different” from middle school age but does not understand she is a lesbian until she goes to college. Her mother, Helen, is deeply unhappy but carries on, to provide some semblance of a family life for her three children.

This is pretty strong stuff, as any memoir of this kind of family would be. It is only as a college student that Alison becomes truly aware of her father’s sexual preferences for men and teenage boys. Before she can find a way to create an honest conversation with him about their variant sex-roles, her father is hit by a truck while crossing the road. It is treated as an accident; but Alison suspects suicide. Her father had one other obsession – remodeling their 1867 house into a recreation of its original glory. There is plenty of symbolism there, of course. The title “Fun Home” is both an ironic comment on her family life and an abbreviation for the family’s funeral home where they spent a lot of time.

A warning for people who become uncomfortable at intimate illustrations -- the graphic art sometimes becomes more “graphic” than you might expect. This book was later turned into a Broadway Musical, *Fun Home*, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2015.

IndyPL_SteveB May 04, 2020

An award-winning combination of memoir and graphic novel, about a young woman’s relationship with her domineering, emotionally distant father. Both have secrets – her father, Bruce, is a closeted gay high school teacher and part-time mortician. Alison knows she is “different” from middle school age but does not understand she is a lesbian until she goes to college. Her mother, Helen, is deeply unhappy but carries on, to provide some semblance of a family life for her three children.

This is pretty strong stuff, as any memoir of this kind of family would be. It is only as a college student that Alison becomes truly aware of her father’s sexual preferences for men and teenage boys. Before she can find a way to create an honest conversation with him about their variant sex-roles, her father is hit by a truck while crossing the road. It is treated as an accident; but Alison suspects suicide. Her father had one other obsession – remodeling their 1867 house into a recreation of its original glory. There is plenty of symbolism there, of course. The title “Fun Home” is both an ironic comment on her family life and an abbreviation for the family’s funeral home where they spent a lot of time.

A warning for people who become uncomfortable at intimate illustrations -- the graphic art sometimes becomes more “graphic” than you might expect. This book was later turned into a Broadway Musical, *Fun Home*, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2015.

a
atlbrazos
Apr 09, 2020

This was the best book I read the year it came out.

h
hjwwjxm
Apr 05, 2020

+ I love how honest author is about their coming of age story on gender exploration.
- It's a little bit hard to read for me because there're a lot of literature metaphor and references

a
alyshavictoriaann
Nov 27, 2019

Smart, sexy, and solemn. I liked it more than the musical, and that's saying something! 5/5

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Sep 18, 2019

This title was recently included on a New York Times list of best memoirs, and while it may seem like an unusual choice given the format, I think its spot was well deserved. I found it extremely interesting, dark and funny in equal measure, both well written and drawn, and just generally solid. If you've yet to give graphic novels a chance, this is a good place to start.

m
Ms_Tiddilybops
Aug 26, 2019

There are so many layers to this story. Not every event is relatable, but a lot of it is: the way it examines the relationship of a child with her parents, the way it recounts the transitions from childhood to adulthood, the way we love our friends even when we see their imperfections (and the way that a parent can turn into a friend). I loved the references to literature & history throughout and how Bechdel used other stories' foundations and frames to build and show us her "Fun House"
A touching, confusing, nostalgic, blunt memoir--and a very worthwhile read.

r
rlbeekman
Aug 18, 2019

Bechdel is equally skilled at drawing and writing in this graphic memoir. It tells her story of growing up with a father who is a closeted but active homosexual, a high school English teacher, a funeral home owner, and a restorer of that historical "fun home" in their small and somewhat claustrophobically close-knit Pennsylvania town. The story is not told in simple chronological order, but in a series of chapters that orbit key events in her father's life, particularly his death -- either by accident or suicide at age 44 -- and her own experiences with childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder and increasing clarity about her lesbian identity. This is a sometimes funny, sometimes acerbic, sometimes tender, but always unflinchingly honest memoir of an unusual upbringing.

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Ms_Tiddilybops
Aug 26, 2019

Sexual Content: NSFW

p
pchakerian
Nov 29, 2010

Sexual Content: Some nudity and sexual acts.

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emkeller
Jul 03, 2012

"If there was ever a bigger pansy than my father, it was Marcel Proust."

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