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Fun Home: A family tragicomic


By Alison Bechdel (author/illustrator)

> Review by Carolyn Marcille

Intensely personal and deeply literary, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home is an illustrated journey through the author’s fraught upbringing. Bechdel comes out of the closet to her family early in college, only to be told that her father is a gay man. Mere weeks later, her father is dead; whether it was an accident or suicide remains a question that neither Bechdel nor the reader can ever answer.

Fun Home is one of the most intimate graphic novels I have ever experienced because Bechdel doesn’t hold anything back. Everything is open for scrutiny, from her father’s casual revealing of one of the bodies in their titular “fun(eral) home,” to excerpts from Bechdel’s Obessesive Compulsive Disorder-afflicted childhood diaries, to her first experience with a woman. With Bechdel’s excellent use of simple, clean lines, each black-and-white illustration initially belies its deeper meaning. Her exploration of performance of gender is tied together with gorgeously wrought visual metaphors, allowing for reflection on how her story is tied to larger meditations on place, history and literature. Bechdel’s use of the traditionally filmic “gaze,” as well as mirrors, photos and maps, combine beautifully to tell a story about her family’s past, present and future.

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