Cover image for
Fun home : a family tragicomic
Bechdel, Alison, 1960-


9780618871711 (pbk.)

0618871713 (pbk.)
Personal Author:
Physical Description:
232 pages : chiefly illustrations ; 24 cm
Pub Date:
Houghton Mifflin, [2006]



Home Location
Material Type
Shelf Number
Heights - Houston Public Library Adult Graphic novels Book 741.5973 B391
Hillendahl - Houston Public Library Adult Graphic novels Book 741.5973 B391
Oak Forest - Houston Public Library Adult Graphic novels Book 741.5973 B391
Freed-Montrose -- Houston Public Library Adult Graphic novels Book 741.5973 B391
Central - Houston Public Library Adult Non-fiction Book 741.5973 B391
Henington-Alief - Houston Public Library Adult Non-fiction Book 741.5973 B391

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A fresh and brilliantly told memoir from a cult favorite comic artist, marked by gothic twists, a family funeral home, sexual angst, and great books.

This breakout book by Alison Bechdel is a darkly funny family tale, pitch-perfectly illustrated with Bechdel's sweetly gothic drawings. Like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, it's a story exhilaratingly suited to graphic memoir form.

Meet Alison's father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family's Victorian home, 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 his 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 adolescense, the denouement is swift, graphic -- and redemptive.

Author Notes

ALISON BECHDEL has been a careful archivist of her own life and kept a journal since she was ten. Since 1983 she has been chronicling the lives of various characters in the fictionalized "Dykes to Watch Out For" strip, "one of the preeminent oeuvres in the comics genre, period" (Ms.). The strip is syndicated in 50 alternative newspapers, translated into multiple languages, and collected into a book series with a quarter of a million copies in print. Utne magazine haslisted DTWOF as "one of the greatest hits of the twentieth century."

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This is a father and daughter story. Bechdel's mother and two brothers are in it, of course, but Bruce Bechdel had the biggest impact on his eldest child and so is naturally the other main character in her autobiographical graphic novel. Emotionally and physically reserved, to the point of brusqueness, he busied himself restoring--and then some--the Victorian-era house he bought for the family in the Pennsylvania town in which he was born and lived virtually all his 44 years. He enlisted the kids for never-ending interior and exterior modifications of the place in what obviously was his major creative outlet. For a living, he taught twelfth-grade English and ran the small undertaking business that occupied part of his parents' house and that the kids called the fun home. Bechdel doesn't even hint about how ironic she and her brothers meant to be, because she is a narrative artist, not a moralist or comedian, in this book and because she has a greater, real-life irony to consider. After disclosing her lesbianism in a letter home from college, her mother replied that her father was homosexual, too. Alison suddenly understood his legal trouble over buying a beer for a teenage boy, all the teen male "helpers" he had around the house, and his solo outings during family vacations to New York. Bechdel's long-running Dykes to Watch Out For0 is arguably the best comic strip going, and Fun Home 0 is one of the very best graphic novels ever. --Ray Olson Copyright 2006 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This autobiography by the author of the long-running strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, deals with her childhood with a closeted gay father, who was an English teacher and proprietor of the local funeral parlor (the former allowed him access to teen boys). Fun Home refers both to the funeral parlor, where he put makeup on the corpses and arranged the flowers, and the family's meticulously restored gothic revival house, filled with gilt and lace, where he liked to imagine himself a 19th-century aristocrat. The art has greater depth and sophistication that Dykes; Bechdel's talent for intimacy and banter gains gravitas when used to describe a family in which a man's secrets make his wife a tired husk and overshadow his daughter's burgeoning womanhood and homosexuality. His court trial over his dealings with a young boy pushes aside the importance of her early teen years. Her coming out is pushed aside by his death, probably a suicide. The recursively told story, which revisits the sites of tragic desperation again and again, hits notes that resemble Jeanette Winterson at her best. Bechdel presents her childhood as a "still life with children" that her father created, and meditates on how prolonged untruth can become its own reality. She's made a story that's quiet, dignified and not easy to put down. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Bechdel's masterwork is her two-decade award-winning strip, Dykes To Watch Out For, in 10 collected volumes. In that poignant yet hilarious story, Bechdel's inventive characters cope with career and health crises, lesbian psychodrama, and anti-Bush politics. With Fun Home, the artist draws her own story, also poignant, funny, and certainly real-life absurd. Mother is an actress turned housewife, while father teaches high school English and runs a funeral home (the "fun home," the children call it mockingly) on the side. Young Alison is pressed into helping with funerals and renovations on their gothic house, while pretending, along with parents and brothers, that they are a normal family. Yet why did her parents hate each other? Why was father so histrionic and mother so distant? As she untangles these mysteries, Bechdel skillfully pivots the tale in repeat takes around her father's perhaps-suicide. Gradually the secret is revealed, partly in metaphors of literature that brought daughter and father-now revealed as closeted gay-together at last before his death. Highly recommended; libraries should also consider her earlier entertaining prose/comic hybrid on cartooning, The Indelible Alison Bechdel (Firebrand, 1998). With mature themes plus some nudity and sex; for older teens and adults. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/06).-M.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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