Friday, July 30, 2010

Fun Home - Review II

Miranda already reviewed Fun Home.
I loved this book. I've not been a graphic novel (or comics) reader, aside from the odd Doonesbury, but this was so accessible. The drawings add so much nuance to an emotionally heavy story.

Fun Home feels like a cathartic exercise Bechdel went through in order to reconcile her complicated relationship with her father. Alison Bechdel is the renowned author of the comic (and website) "Dykes to Watch Out For". The story paints the disconnect between Bechdel's 70's/80's awareness and openness about her sexuality against her father's lifelong secrecy surrounding his own homosexuality.

You feel for Bechdel, she's so obviously torn between this "otherness" she and her father share, this common experience and shared heritage and the cold reality that her father was a philandering husband and a distant parent. She wants to connect with her father, and does in some ways, but she cannot escape the heartbreak, the lifetime of disappointment he put her mother through.

And then he dies. Bechdel never resolves these feelings about her father. He's gone, and she's young, though she seems older than her years in the context of the story.

As for the medium, I found one aspect particularly effective. In various chapters, Bechdel revisits some of the same scenes and events. In some cases we're shown the same scene, or room or character from a different angle, we get a more complete visual. In others Bechdel uses the same frame, the same graphic and caption, but the context gives us deeper insight. In both cases we are given a second chance to experience the event and it gives these episodes from Bechdel's life so much weight. You feel all the conflicting emotions, the history that makes a moment personal. It's fantastic.

This is a powerful story, certainly worth reading and revisiting.


miranda. said...

I'm usually proud of us if we post twice a month. Twice in the same day?? Is it a full moon or something?

Glad you liked Fun Home :) Did you feel like you were missing something in the last chapter because you haven't read Ulysses?

Abby-Wan Kenobi said...

I saw your post go up and I was hit with a wave of guilt. I've finished like 6 books since I last posted. And when I went through the archives, the first unposted UBC book was Fun Home.

As for full moons, I was at Bechdel's website earlier in the day in a totally unrelated incident. That's a sign. I'm going to try and post again this weekend and start getting caught up.

I did feel like I was missing out on the last chapter. Unfortunately, it also made me have no interest in ever reading Ulysses. I mean, I don't think I was interested before, but now I'm going to actively avoid it.