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Graphic Novel Review 328/365: Fun Home

Please keep up with all of my old Graphic Novel Reviews here as I quest for 365 in 365 days! Or search #GN365 on Twitter.

Fun Home is a winner of all the awards graphic novel that I had not read until today.  My graphic novel friends have been giving me crap about not have read it for quite some time, and I figured it was time.  Honestly, not only had I not read it, but I didn’t even know anything about the story or the hit Broadway musical created from the book.

When I told my friend Jeff that it was my project to read and blog Fun Home today, he asked me if it was because it’s Pride Month.  I said…yes?  Hey, leave me alone, I just learned that the book contains LGBTQ issues.  I told you, I had no idea what the book was going to be about.  But yes, Fun Home is a great book to blog about in celebration of Pride Month, and this coming week, I will be featuring some cool blogs featuring some LGBTQ titles.  Tomorrow, I will be going over some of the best LGBTQ titles that I’ve reviewed thus far during the 365.

But today it’s…

Title: Fun Home   

Author(s): Alison Bechdel

Publisher: Mariner (2007)

Age Rating: 17+

Fun Home, the graphic novel, is as close to canonical non-fiction literature as you can get.  This is the book that you hand a graphic novel skeptic and say, “Just read this…”  That does come without a caveat, of course.  There is a good deal of nudity in this book, and much of it is of a sexual nature since this memoir delves into the idea of sexuality, both Alison’s and her father’s.  I would say it is all tastefully done, but nudity and sex, much like comedy…is subjective, so read and determine whom you would want to give this book.  I’m not giving it to my mom, but possibly an open-minded aunt or uncle.

However, while sexuality is a driving theme in the book, this tale explores so many more avenues, you’ll quickly discover that it is far from a one-trick pony.  Is that the right expression here?  I don’t know.  But you know what I mean.  I personally found the theme of planing roots vs. moving a powerful one.  I am reminded of Scott Russell Sanders’ refute to Salman Rushdie’s idea that mass migration of people causes a “radically new types of human being: people who root themselves in ideas rather than places.”

Sanders suggests that we should root, that settling allows us to know places, ourselves, and our surroundings.  And that will make us better contributors to our communities.  I think Alison Bechdel struggles with this dichotomy, especially in regard to her father: a man that was born, lived, worked, and died all in a half-mile radius.  His possible suicide might have come at the expense of not migrating.  Of staying put in what one might call direct contradiction to his growth as a person.

I see it fitting to bring in the likes of Sanders and Rushdie to this reflection, for this book is steeped classic literature, literary analysis, and philosophy.  At times, I’ll admit, I even wondered if Bechdel was being a bit pedantic with her language, but as the book progressed, and the allusions and references began to come around full circle, I understood the connections between the language, allusions, and her father the literature teacher.

I took me about three hours to get through this book: much longer than most 230-page graphic novels I’ve read.  It’s dense.  It’s intelligent.  And in its exploration, you will relate to at least one of these characters.  You will find themes and motifs that speak to you.  This is because this book is real.  We do not all experience what it is like to be gay or ponder the complex idea of a parent’s sexuality, but we are all vulnerable, and we do have beautiful sides to us that are non-traditional…and we all have some eccentric family, some to a fault.  I love this book.  I get it’s massive amount of success, and I can’t wait to read more from Alison Bechdel.

Happy reading!

Eric

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