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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

by

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Cover

 

Staff Pick

Fun Home, in concert with Craig Thompson's Blankets, was one of the works that proved to my doubting eyes that graphic novels could reach heights every bit as poetic, moving, and magical as the finest prose. Darkly funny but wholly sincere, the story of a young woman coming to terms both with herself and her father's lifetime of secrets (all the while growing up in a funeral home!) is hands down one of my favorite books, and the perfect gateway into a whole new genre.
Recommended by Patrick, Powell's Books at PDX

Fun Home is a memoir told in the form of a graphic novel, a collage of comic artist Alison Bechdel's impressions of her life — from her childhood spent growing up in a funeral home to her college years discovering women and burying her closeted father. Bechdel layers her methodical drawings with precise, searching prose, allowing her readers to live beside her as she tries to make sense of herself in light of her father's secrets and possible suicide.
Recommended by Caitlin D., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Please note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.

Publisher Comments:

This breakout book by Alison Bechdel takes its place alongside the unnerving, memorable, darkly funny family memoirs of Augusten Burroughs and Mary Karr. It's a father-daughter tale pitch-perfectly illustrated with Bechdel's sweetly gothic drawings and — like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis — a story exhilaratingly 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.

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 than 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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Bechdel's memoir offers a graphic narrative of uncommon richness, depth, literary resonance and psychological complexity....The results are painfully honest, occasionally funny and penetratingly insightful." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"If David Sedaris could draw, and if Bleak House had been a little funnier, you'd have Alison Bechdel's Fun Home." Amy Bloom, author of A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You

Review:

"Alison Bechdel — she's one of the best, one to watch out for." Harvey Pekar, author of American Splendor

Review:

"Stupendous. Alison Bechdel's mesmerizing feat of familial resurrection is a rare, prime example of why graphic novels have taken over the conversation about American literature. The details — visual and verbal, emotional and elusive — are devastatingly captured by an artist in total control of her craft." Chip Kidd, author of The Cheese Monkeys

Review:

"Brave and forthright and insightful — exactly what Alison Bechdel does best." Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

Review:

"Bechdel's long-running Dykes to Watch Out For is arguably the best comic strip going, and Fun Home is one of the very best graphic novels ever." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"[S]plendid....More than the witty art, more than the mordant prose, it is this openness that distinguishes Bechdel's generous and intelligent work....[I]t has a depth and sweetness few can match at five times the length. (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"[A] revelation: Here is a panel-and-drawings book that feels like a true literary achievement, something with characters who baffle and disappoint and break hearts the way people do in life and in the best of prose." Minneapolis Star Tribune

Review:

"[R]iveting....Fun Home is a beautiful, assured piece of work, by far the best thing Bechdel has done in over two decades as a cartoonist....Bechdel's cartooning has transmuted his life and death into an extraordinary book..." Douglas Wolk, Salon.com

Review:

"The year's best (graphic) novel is brilliantly conceived and fearlessly executed, and you will not soon forget your journey through it." Portland Oregonian

Review:

"At times, Bechdel's prose gets a little opaque — not because she's a bad writer, but because I didn't pay attention in high school....Fun Home is an intricate document of a childhood that, ultimately, was enough like mine — only with a few more literary references — that for me, it worked." Jill Soloway, Los Angeles Times

Review:

"A pioneering work, pushing two genres (comics and memoir) in multiple new directions... Bechdel's rich language and precise images combine to create a lush piece of work — a memoir where concision and detail are melded for maximum, obsessive density." Sean Wilsey, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"[A]n engrossing memoir that does the graphic novel format proud. The tale...is painfully honest and richly detailed in words and images." New York Times

Review:

"Bechdel's drawing style is simple but effective." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"A comic book for lovers of words! Bechdel's rich language and precise images combine to create a lush piece of work." Sean Wilsey, New York Times

Synopsis:

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.

About the Author

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 has listed DTWOF as "one of the greatest hits of the twentieth century."

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 11 comments:

Leslie Richman, February 21, 2013 (view all comments by Leslie Richman)
Fun Home is absolutely a "desert island" book. This one will be in my core collection, and life definitely doesn't look quite the same after experiencing it through the talented Alison Bechdel's eyes. Her presentation of her life and family is at once frank, engaging, and completely relatable. The book is like a long greedy glance into the windows of that house you were always curious about, right at dinner time when everyone's true colors are on display- it's a gem and an amazing reading experience!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(0 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
quiack, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by quiack)
Amazing book! Alison Bechdel is a wonderful writer/drawer. This autobiographic novel is incredibly touching and will strike a chord with anybody who has ever struggled to understand his parents.
She tells the story of her coming out, which turns out to be an echo of her father's story, a closeted homosexual. Her non linear storytelling is brilliant, adding layers of meaning to the otherwise simple story of a coming out. And, to be honest, I had to read the book quite a few times to get them all. To put it in a nutshell, just buy the damn book!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Aimee Bonneval, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Aimee Bonneval)
This is the first graphic novel I have ever read and I loved it! Bechdel's artwork illustrates the story of her early childhood, and her relationship with her father, in a way that is engaging but not redundant. And her dry sense of humor makes the story amusing rather than merely tragic.
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View all 11 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780618871711
Author:
Bechdel, Alison
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Author:
Forney, Ellen
Location:
Boston
Subject:
General
Subject:
Graphic Novels - General
Subject:
Fathers and daughters
Subject:
Cartoonists
Subject:
CGN000000
Subject:
Graphic Novels
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20070631
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
BandW illustrations t/o
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.56 in 0.85 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.00 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Houghton Mifflin Company - English 9780618871711 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Fun Home, in concert with Craig Thompson's Blankets, was one of the works that proved to my doubting eyes that graphic novels could reach heights every bit as poetic, moving, and magical as the finest prose. Darkly funny but wholly sincere, the story of a young woman coming to terms both with herself and her father's lifetime of secrets (all the while growing up in a funeral home!) is hands down one of my favorite books, and the perfect gateway into a whole new genre.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Fun Home is a memoir told in the form of a graphic novel, a collage of comic artist Alison Bechdel's impressions of her life — from her childhood spent growing up in a funeral home to her college years discovering women and burying her closeted father. Bechdel layers her methodical drawings with precise, searching prose, allowing her readers to live beside her as she tries to make sense of herself in light of her father's secrets and possible suicide.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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 than 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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Bechdel's memoir offers a graphic narrative of uncommon richness, depth, literary resonance and psychological complexity....The results are painfully honest, occasionally funny and penetratingly insightful."
"Review" by , "If David Sedaris could draw, and if Bleak House had been a little funnier, you'd have Alison Bechdel's Fun Home."
"Review" by , "Alison Bechdel — she's one of the best, one to watch out for."
"Review" by , "Stupendous. Alison Bechdel's mesmerizing feat of familial resurrection is a rare, prime example of why graphic novels have taken over the conversation about American literature. The details — visual and verbal, emotional and elusive — are devastatingly captured by an artist in total control of her craft."
"Review" by , "Brave and forthright and insightful — exactly what Alison Bechdel does best."
"Review" by , "Bechdel's long-running Dykes to Watch Out For is arguably the best comic strip going, and Fun Home is one of the very best graphic novels ever."
"Review" by , "[S]plendid....More than the witty art, more than the mordant prose, it is this openness that distinguishes Bechdel's generous and intelligent work....[I]t has a depth and sweetness few can match at five times the length. (Grade: A)"
"Review" by , "[A] revelation: Here is a panel-and-drawings book that feels like a true literary achievement, something with characters who baffle and disappoint and break hearts the way people do in life and in the best of prose."
"Review" by , "[R]iveting....Fun Home is a beautiful, assured piece of work, by far the best thing Bechdel has done in over two decades as a cartoonist....Bechdel's cartooning has transmuted his life and death into an extraordinary book..."
"Review" by , "The year's best (graphic) novel is brilliantly conceived and fearlessly executed, and you will not soon forget your journey through it."
"Review" by , "At times, Bechdel's prose gets a little opaque — not because she's a bad writer, but because I didn't pay attention in high school....Fun Home is an intricate document of a childhood that, ultimately, was enough like mine — only with a few more literary references — that for me, it worked."
"Review" by , "A pioneering work, pushing two genres (comics and memoir) in multiple new directions... Bechdel's rich language and precise images combine to create a lush piece of work — a memoir where concision and detail are melded for maximum, obsessive density."
"Review" by , "[A]n engrossing memoir that does the graphic novel format proud. The tale...is painfully honest and richly detailed in words and images."
"Review" by , "Bechdel's drawing style is simple but effective."
"Review" by , "A comic book for lovers of words! Bechdel's rich language and precise images combine to create a lush piece of work."
"Synopsis" by ,
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.

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