Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Title: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Author: Alison Bechdel
Publication date: 2006

Date started: 20/05/2022
Date finished: 21/05/2022

First sentence: “Like many fathers, mine could occasionally be prevailed on for a spot of ‘airplane”.”
Last sentence: “He did hurdle into the sea, of course. But in the tricky reverse narration that impels our entwined stories, he was there to catch me when I leapt.”

Summary (spoilers): This is an auto-biography of Alison Bechdel, mostly focusing on her father and his secret homosexuality, as well as her childhood and early adulthood, and her own discovery of her homosexuality. It also deals with her father’s early death when he was hit by a truck at 44 years old, her complicated relationship with grief and her confusing family dynamics.

Opinion: I had heard so many good things about this book that I was very excited to read it, but it wasn’t at all what I expected. I’m not sure if I got the idea that it would be a fun read from the title (“fun” home) or the subtitle (tragicomic), but it sure was anything but fun. I liked the drawing style enough, and I was interested in the life of a young lesbian in the 70s and 80s, but unfortunately that wasn’t the focus of the book. The focus of the book is her closeted homosexual father with pedophile tendencies, his narcissism and the OCD the author got partly as a result from it. I was quite impressed by the author’s ability to dissect her family dynamics and to remember so many things from her childhood, but the narration itself seemed very messy to me – it kept going back and forth in time and retell the same thing in many different ways, and it was so clogged with literary references that I didn’t get that it was hard to understand at times. I can see why many people liked it, but unfortunately it wasn’t for me.

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