Becca Reads


Fun Home

You know, I read Fun Home almost two weeks ago, over Thanksgiving, and I even thought about what I would blog about it, and I have no idea why I never got to it, because it's not exactly like I've been blogging up a storm about other things I've been reading since then (perhaps this is the dwindling of the blog...).

So I thought Fun Home was very good.  I've been an Alison Bechdel fan since way back when (I have the first several Dykes to Watch Out For collections, which I bought when they first came out), but it was kind of odd to realize that she's just a few years older than me...OK, now all the things I was going to blog about are coming back to me.  Let's just go for the list format.

1)  I've actually dipped in and out of comics and graphic novels for maybe 20 years, generally on the feminist end of things--I also bought Twisted Sisters: A Collection of Bad Girl Art when it first came out, and that one's so old you can barely find it on the internet.  But I'm not quite sure why I've been interested in comics--probably because they are cool, and then there was the feminist angle--because I am, as I've said many times, the most hopelessly verbal person on the planet (quick illustrative anecdote: I was completely amazed when my art major best friend my first year in college said that he sat on the subway and took pictures in his head, because I had just assumed that everyone else also sat on the subway and made up stories about people in their heads).  So I would read comics, but I would focus completely on the words--like I read fashion magazines and glance at the picture then turn quickly to the words.  Illustrative example: it wan't until maybe the fourth time I read Maus that I realized that the Nazis were CATS.  Get it?  Mice--cats?  I know, everyone got it immediately, it's that obvious.  Except for me.

So anyway, reading Fun Home, I decided that I was going to focus on the pictures, and they were fascinating.  Now I see why the graphic novel (or graphic memoir, as the case may be) is graphic.  I mean, duh.  I was particularly taken with the maps and how she drew her father's body hair so meticulously, and I spent a lot of time thinking about what it must have been like to draw those frames, and the same people and places over and over and over (not that she doesn't have practice with the Dykes, but still) (hmm, would you call these thoughts turning the production of pictures into a story?).  I also liked the historical visual details--like those Norwegian sweaters everyone (at least everyone on the east coast, of a certain socioeconomic bracket) used to wear in the late 70s and early 80s.

2) The book did not convince me that her father committed suicide.

3) Of course I liked all the literary motifs and intertextuality.

4) I also liked the way she captured lesbian/feminist college life of the early 80s.  Her stacks of books reminded me of a lot of things I haven't read in a long time.

5) Is it better to have a fascinatingly weird and hard life that you can make art out of, or a relatively easy and pleasant life, that's pretty darn boring?  Is that the eternal question of the would-be artiste, or what?

6) The book also made me think a lot about being in one's 40s.  Her father was 44 when he died.  So was F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Her father was frustrated and disappointed.  Fitzgerald was successful, for a while, and frustrated and disappointed.  Bechdel published this book when she was 46.  She is much beloved by a subsection of contemporary American society, but she has no money.  I am 42.  I don't know what I am.

Like I said: good book, thought-provoking, highly recommended.


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