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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison…
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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006)

by Alison Bechdel

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Showing 1-5 of 229 (next | show all)
Fun home is an autobiographical comic about the author's relationship with her father. They ways they were close and the ways they were distant. They way they orbited each other and complemented each other and contrasted each other and pushed each other away. It's deeply introspective and thoughtful and the art is lovely. ( )
  TPauSilver | Jul 4, 2015 |
Bechdel’s coming of age memoir is profound, touching, intellectual, and most importantly, honest. Her own journey is one of discovering she is a lesbian, finding out what that means, and coming out to her family while she’s in college. Her father’s is one of running a funeral home, teaching high school English, having a love for interior decorating and literature, and leading a double life that sometimes involves teenage boys. When he commits suicide at age 44, when Bechdel was 20, it’s hard for her to process, and re-connecting to him through memories (which sometimes need to be reinterpreted) is what the book is all about.

Bechdel ability to be true to her sexuality is set side by side with his inability to do so, and yet, the story is not a simplistic tale of ‘look how far we’ve come’ by any means. Like all great writing, there is something specific here, but also, something which speaks universal truths. She’s connected to her father in her love of literature and ‘being different’ than the cultural norm, and yet, disconnected, as he was aloof and often a glowering presence in their home. All relationships are complicated, no one is perfect, and we lead our separate lives, even if we’re under the same roof. Sometimes it’s easier for us to express ourselves to others, strangers even, as opposed to family members who are supposed to be closest to us.

The book draws extensive references to Camus, Proust, Joyce, and Fitzgerald, yet also American culture of the 70s, and all of it in a light way, with poetic, funny touches. It’s never cloying or sentimental, and yet I found it quite poignant, especially in the scenes that end each chapter. Bechdel is a master in telling this story, touching upon happiness and sadness, truth and conjecture, and love and accepting the flaws of those around us all at the same time. Powerful stuff. ( )
3 vote gbill | Jul 4, 2015 |
Wow! I never thought a graphic novel (ok – a tragicomic) can pack such a wallop. It’s poignant, raw, heartfelt, honest, and humorous. In this autobiography, author/artist Alison Bechdel shares the journey of her youth, family, and her homosexuality. The complication of this tale is the discovery of her closeted gay father, who died (possible suicide) four weeks after learning of his daughter’s sexual orientation and two weeks after his wife asked for a divorce. This journey is richly told via four effective medium throughout the pages – 1) dialogue of the actual events, 2) background text of the events, 3) literary references, and 4) the graphic artwork.

The literary references in this book added an immense richness to the tales. Father and daughter are both readers using book characters to mirror thoughts, feelings, and characteristics. F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Colette, Camus, and Marcel Proust were all featured in the book, as well as Oscar Wilde, whose indecent trial coincided with her mom’s theatrical role in “The Importance of Being Ernest”.

Not surprising, this book is very adult oriented with themes of sexual orientation, suicide, emotional abuse, and dysfunctional family life – but perfectly balanced with humor. The revelation of her father’s closeted homosexuality explained a lot of the latent angst in his behavior during their childhood. He was the antagonist of the story, and the book was dedicated to the protagonists – her Mom and her two brothers. Interestingly, the book became the author’s therapy and in her later interviews, she expressed an appreciation for the early generations of gays who led the path to her ability to smoothly come out of the closet even though her father never did. I will add this book was turned into a screen play which became the 2015 Tony Award for Best Musical of the Year, with a much more upbeat tone than the book. I hope the father will RIP knowing his daughter has expressed some forgiveness by having a more positive view of her past in this musical.

While I typically have no issues with books that jump back and forth in time, I ding this book somewhat for repeating images/aspects previously shared to align with a chapter’s theme. A bit more editing is warranted, especially the last chapter. Still, I decided it deserves the 5 star rating. It truly is a homerun.

P.S. “Fun Home” = Funeral Home, the father’s family business

Some Quotes:
On dysfunctional family dynamics:
“Sometimes, when thing were going well, I think my father actually enjoyed having a family. Or at least, the air of authenticity we lent to his exhibit. A sort of still life with children…… I grew to resent the way my father treated his furniture like children, and his children like furniture…… He used his skillful artifice not to make things, but to make things appear to be what they were not. That is to say, impeccable.”

On death:
“It could be argued that death is inherently absurd, and that grinning is not necessarily an inappropriate response. I mean absurd in the sense of ridiculous, unreasonable. One second a person is there, the next they’re not.”
And
Credited to Camus – “The Myth of Sisyphus”: “The subject of this essay is precisely this relationship between the absurd and suicide, the exact degree to which suicide is a solution to the absurd.”

On homosexuality:
“Proust refers to his explicitly homosexual characters as ‘inverts.’ I’ve always been fond of this antiquated clinical term. It’s imprecise and insufficient, defining the homosexual as a person whose gender expression is at odds with his or her sex. But in the admittedly limited sample comprising my father and me, perhaps it is sufficient. Not only were we inverts. We were inversions of one another.” ( )
1 vote varwenea | Jul 4, 2015 |
EDIT: Abril, 2015

[Releyendo e a poquito. ¡Qué ganas de comprarlo en físico!]


Reseña Original: Enero 2015

Estoy un poco revolucionada, así que la siguiente reseña es un desvarío en pocos párrafos. Sepan disculpar.

"Not only we were inverts. We were inversions of one another. While I was trying to compensate for something unmanly in him. He was attempting to express something femenine through me."



Puede sonar absurdo decir que identificada me siento con esto, absurdo y cliché-- se me sale la voz infantil hablando soñadora, admitiendo esto. Pensé que había dejado las identificaciones en la adolescencia, que ya nada podría parecerme remotamente relativo a mi vida (salvo el ocasional personaje masculino que encuentro en alguna que otra ficción... si, suelo encontrarme en más hombres que en mujeres) y, sin embargo, lo que se dice y se muestra en esta novela gráfica es paralelo a mi propia vida (aunque sólo superficialmente la mayoría las veces).

Seguro esto que trato de explicar les debe haber pasado a las miles (de ahí lo cliché) de personas que se devoraron este recuento autobiográfico (y uso el verbo "devorar" porque se me hace la palabra ideal para describir mi experiencia con la vida de Bechdel y su padre... un sentimiento voraz, de no querer parar de leer, no querer parar de escuchar lo que la autora tiene para contar). Quien haya tenido padres ausentes/presentes, quien haya sentido descontento con los mandatos de género, cualquiera que haya buscado comparaciones en la ficción para aliviar o intentar explicar, a su propia familia (que, encima de todo, es precisamente lo que hace Alison Bechdel es Fun Home! Vaya casualidad!) va a devorar esta novela gráfica en una sentada.



Cualquiera va a ser capaz de verse en algún cuadro de esta no-ficcion ficcionada...pero no cualquiera tiene el talento para la poesía y la imagen que la propia Bechdel tiene. El refugio casi nostálgico (y quizás desesperado a veces) que la Alison adulta encuentra en las comparaciones que hace de sus padres con personajes de F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James; de ella misma en Colette y de su propia relación con el padre en James Joyce es sencillamente perfecto (sencillo y perfecto).



Y he ahí lo fascinante. El poder encontrar a sus seres queridos y querer entenderlos en los párrafos de otros (¿para sentirse cercana a lo que nunca pudo tener del todo?), es parte de su arte, su modo de luto, una declaración de cariño tardía.



Gran parte gira en torno a aquello que los hijos desconocen acerca de sus padres. Eso que cuando vas creciendo, vas suponiendo--presintiendo casi. Esos secretos que te duelen; ese descubrir que tus viejos son, al fin y al cabo, individuos, seres humanos que tienen una vida aparte de los hijos; cosas que, al entenderlas, el comprenderlas completamente es lo que te empieza a cambiar a vos, como hijo.

Bechdel sabe de esto. Por ello presenta dos visiones distintas: una ficción que abarca una cotidianidad un poco triste de ausencia paterna, y una dolorosa realidad. La primera, la vida en familia. La segunda, los padres más allá de los hijos. Las ficciones que ellos mismos inventaron en su descontento con lo que les tocó: el padre inmerso en sus libros, un homosexual reprimido (ante los ojos de la familia, la sociedad, pero no en la privacidad) y la madre multifunción, artista y ama de casa; ambos infelices, ambos ignorando a los hijos, a veces demasiado metidos en los sueños perdidos, los "tiempos perdidos".

Alison se ve en su padre, de algún modo se complementa con él.

Nosotros, lectores, probablemente nos reconozcamos en ellos también.


Me siento medio tarada, medio bastante incapaz de tratar de explicar lo que siento con esto que acabo de leer. Cualquier cosa que agrege ahora me va a parecer insuficiente, para nada a la altura y la fluidez de la prosa de Bechdel (ni que mencionar su talento artístico).

Así que voy a agregar nada más que es una de esas historias que te cambian un poco la vida.

IMPERDIBLE. A veces gracioso, pero más que nada triste. La historia de Bruce (padre) y Alison (hija) se empieza desde la incomprensión y la soledad, para terminar con un cuadro desgarrador pero al mismo tiempo, ya no tan solitario (al menos no absolutamente.) y claramente, basado en el entendimiento que en un principio causó tanta separación.

Una representación de los padres que nunca llegamos a conocer del todo. ( )
  LaMala | Jun 7, 2015 |
This is a very different kind of book, and the first graphic memoir that I have read. It tends to flow nicely, and the story is engrossing at times. Yet, I did not feel as though there was much insight gained. Overall, I could have taken or left it. Yet, there is quite a bit of depth to it regarding human sexuality and self-discovery. ( )
  TiffanyAK | May 1, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 229 (next | show all)
Bechdel’s style is straightforward. Her detailed drawings strive to present what she remembers accurately and with detail. The book is black-and-white with a blue-grey watercolor wash that provides depth and adds to the feeling of memory.
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Mom, Christian, and John.

We did have a lot of fun, in spite of everything.
First words
Like many fathers, mine could occasionally be prevailed on for a spot of "airplane."
Quotations
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618871713, Paperback)

In this groundbreaking, bestselling graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father. In her hands, personal history becomes a work of amazing subtlety and power, written with controlled force and enlivened with humor, rich literary allusion, and heartbreaking detail.

Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the "Fun Home." It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:09 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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