Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic - Alison Bechdel

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is a graphic memoir, sad and funny and even shocking, like a good memoir should be. Bechdel deals with disillusionment, sexuality, and the tricky matter of knowing your parents all with a sort of offhanded tone. Her artwork is fantastic. She packs a lot of detail into those squares, carefully composing scenes. And the faces of her characters (herself, especially) are wonderfully expressive.

Bechdel uses the comic format to lend more layers to her metaphors, give more meaning to any manner of thing she's expressing (specificity FTW), and add that much more weight to the family secrets she exposes to the world. And I love the way she reveals those secrets, hardly building up to them at all, but carrying on with the ordinary until WHAM, secret-sucker-punch.

Do not be afraid of the whole "Graphic Novel" thing if it's new to you. If you can dig a good memoir, pick this one up. Bechdel's writing is wonderful: it gets out of the way when it needs to and it delights in its own goodness when it's called for. And she uses so many literary references that it really upped the "Ah, yes. I am Reading a Book" feeling. It did make me realize that I really need to go ahead and read Joyce's Ulysses already. But I feel like I should read The Odyssey first. I have seen O Brother, Where Art Thou. That'd be enough background, right?

'bout sums it up. 

7 comments:

  1. "Do not be afraid of the whole "Graphic Novel" thing if it's new to you."

    Yeeeah! 'Cause I don't read those. And I loved this MIGHTILY. Again, though, the sequel? No. Do not read. But I think pretty much everyone should read this one.

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    1. It's a great hybrid of this new thing to us and this comfortable thing we already like.

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  2. I want to read this but the whole graphic novel thing scares me because I am very easily distracted and graphic novels and comics just do not hold my attention. Or rather it is very hard for me to stay focused on it not just skim the whole thing.

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    1. I'd say give it a shot. It's a really fast read, and it's easy to put down and pick up again (though I'll bet you'd read it in vast chunks). And her writing really is great.

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  3. Hehehe, this totally made me want to read Ulysses, and yet it's been... Oooh, 9 months and I haven't even considered reading Ulysses. Maybe one day. When I'm 50. But yessssss, love this book! Second only to Maus in graphic novel memoirs (I've read like 3. But that's not the point!)

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    1. Yes, exactly, Ulysses is like a bucket list book. At some point before I die I will read it, but I can't be any more specific with the timing.

      There is so much love for Maus out there. I really want to read it.

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  4. You should definitely read The Odyssey first. If I may say so, you should maybe read The Odyssey INSTEAD. The Fagels translation. Because it's amazing. It's so beautiful.

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