The minute I heard that Alison Bechdel had written a graphic novel about her childhood, I couldn't wait to read it.
As you may know, Alison Bechdel is the artist who draws the comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For, which is something of a political soap opera following the lives of a community of lesbians through their romantic relationships and political struggles. I love this comic strip because Bechdel creates so many different characters with such depth that you can't help but care about them and their lives and wonder what they'll do next. Also impressive is the way Bechdel handles complex political questions: instead of picking the "right" answer and banging you over the head with it, she has different characters hold different views and shows them discussing their opinions in a believable way as issues arise in their daily lives. Nowhere else have I seen such an effective weaving of the personal with the political as in the work of Alison Bechdel.
As much as I love "Dykes To Watch Out For," however, I almost feel like I like her memoir The Indelible Alison Bechdel even more. I love her portrait of growing up and coming out as a lesbian, and her description of how she was formed and influenced by the culture around her.
I wish I could show you all the stuff I love from this book (you have to get your own copy for that, and it isn't even the book I'm reviewing today ;-) ) but here's a little taste:
As you might guess, this book was a big influence for me when writing the story Young Women's.
Fun Home has a few darker notes compared to Bechdel's other works. The tone is set in the dark humor of the title, "Fun Home" being the family's term for the funeral home that they ran.
This book adds a whole new dimension to Bechdel's self-portrait. It's the same lovable character...
More than a portrait of Bechdel herself, however, Fun Home is her portrait of her father, obsessively restoring and decorating a grand Victorian mansion and raising a traditional Catholic family despite the fact that he was gay.
Bechdel's memoir hits some of the same notes found in Jennifer Lee's memoir of raising children with a gay husband (My Ex is Having Sex with Rex), especially the idea that while there was something fundamentally not working about the relationship, at the same time they really were a family.