Fun Home

Bechdel's bittersweet coming-of-age anecdotes gently draw us in

Book Review by Nine | 13 Sep 2006
Fun Home' is a graphic novel by the creator of Dykes To Watch Out For, a soap opera comic strip that's been running for over twenty years and has attracted a loyal following worldwide. Bechdel's latest book, however, is a radical departure from DTWOF, dealing with her own childhood, her father, and his apparent suicide. It's rendered all the more significant as she uncovers the full story of his attraction to men, the closeted life that he was forced to lead even as she came out at university, and the guilt she struggles with wondering if he would have lived had she never disclosed her own sexual identity. 'Fun Home' (named after the family business – a funeral home – where her childhood was spent and where it was somehow harder, not easier, to make sense of seeing her own father dead) is drawn with an astonishing attention to detail. The frequent parallels drawn to classic literature demand an extra level of concentration, similar to the multiple themes which weave through DTWOF comics. Bechdel's bittersweet coming-of-age anecdotes gently draw us in to her deeply personal story, and though we already know that her work is good, this work in particular is a triumph. [Nine]
Fun Home is out on paperback from Sept 14, published by Jonathan Cape.