94. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)

A graphic novel, I hear you cry? Yes indeed. It’s not a genre I’m familiar with – but then again Fun Home doesn’t fit into any genre, it’s unique. Broadly speaking, it’s the story of a young woman’s relationship with her father, told through a labyrinth of flashback and literary allusion, which sounds ghastly but isn’t. The drawings are witty and beautiful, the words ditto, and the way in which Bechdel mines into her own past to understand a tragic truth at the heart of her personal history is extremely moving. Besides the universality of the parent-child theme, I love Fun Home because it’s about a young person trying to make sense of her life through books – about how helpful and useful that can be, but also how limiting and misleading. The ‘fun home’ of the title is the funeral home in which Bechdel’s father worked; that should give you some idea of the mixture of comedy and tragedy that she cooks up. Excitingly, Bechdel’s new book Are You My Mother? is out any day now.


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