Alison’s father, Bruce, was an English teacher who also manned the local funeral home, which they called the Fun Home. Bruce was also a closeted gay man, which Alison did not learn until she came out as a lesbian to her parents.
Why this Book?: Required reading for my queer literature class.
I . . . could not follow this book. The way Fun Home is told, it’s very stream-of-consciousness, and for me–well, it’s hard for me to follow. I don’t see how one thing adds to another, because it just seems as if the narrator is jumping all over the place. We’d go from past to present to the past looking into the future and I just could not deal with that. So I struggled with that. I think it being a graphic novel really helped with my comprehension of the story, but when it came to details and the actual story I was completely lost.
Fun Home was also uncomfortable in the way that it only approaches the fact that Alison’s dad cheated on his wife with other men/boy, but said nothing on the fact that he was sleeping with boys (keep in mind that he is a high school teacher–do you see where my mind went?). It might have discussed this at one point–I know it discussed it when he bought beer for a minor, but it never said anything about the pedophilia. This book made me uncomfortable with the fact that it focused on Bruce being gay more than him being a pedophile? And it’s not just him being a closeted gay pedophile! He was also abusive but that was only discussed once! Bechdel goes on about how he was an okay father, but only touches on the fact that he was a horribly toxic and creepy man to be around. I realize this portrays complex parental relationships but . . . jeez, with my life? I can’t take that complexity.
I also have to say that, the way Bechdel discusses her realization of her being gay was a bit . . . hurtful? She and her father (this was shown in the book) have a conversation about how they acted as children: supposedly, she dressed up as a boy and wanted to be a boy when she was young, and her father wanted to be a girl and dressed up as a girl when he was young. They take this a sign of them “always” being gay and I just . . . was really off-put with their approach to that. Because that’s not true, at least not of everyone, and how they saw the world as black and white, it hurt. What about transgender people?
Final Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Despite that, I didn’t loath this novel. The art was very good and alluring, and I wanted to know more about Bechdel’s life–especially her mother. But we never really got that. It focused so much on the good sides of her father, despite him being a horrible person. I just wish it was more honest about him, rather than so biased that you don’t see the bad.
Would I Recommend?
Hmmm really depends, in all honesty. It was definitely an interesting read, but I just didn’t like it’s focus. It was also hard to follow, so that made it all the more irritating because I had to read it for class.
Trigger warning for parental abuse, drinking, cisnormativity, pedophilia mention, cheating, parental emotional abuse, homophobia, death, NSFW drawings, and mentions of suicide and depression.
Published: June 5th, 2007
Publisher: Mariner Books
Page Count: 232
Genre: Graphic Novel/Memoir/NonFiction
Synopsis: via Goodreads
In this graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father.
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.