Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fun Home: a very short review

Somewhat accidentally, I found myself reading Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.

Let me see if I can set the stage for you a little bit.

It's a graphic novel.

About childhood.

Called Fun Home.

Nope, you're wrong: whatever you're thinking, you're wrong.

The Fun Home of the title was the funeral home where Bechdel's father worked, and her story is anything but a gentle reminiscence of her peaceful childhood days.

Bechdel more-or-less takes three swings at describing her childhood: once as she saw it as a child, growing up; once as she revisited it once she was an adult and had moved away; and once with the benefit of time and reflection. All three viewpoints are intertwined and interleaved: she dances around, describing the same events and observations from different angles and distances.

The book is beautifully written and drawn, and the story is fascinating. Bechdel is a lively and literate author, and I found her literary allusions, her cultural observations, and her autobiographic reflections to be compelling, even riveting.

But the tale she tells is raw and heartbreaking, it is indeed a tragic story from a tragic time.

I'm glad I read it, although I guess I should be a little bit more careful what books I "stumble into," because here, to strain the old proverb, you certainly can't tell a book from its cover.

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