[GN] Fun Home – Alison Bechdel
January 14, 2010 § 8 Comments
What can I say about this book? I’ve finished it for quite a while now, but I just didn’t know what I could write about it, and therefore put it off till now.
Maybe I can start with if I enjoyed it. Well, I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. It wasn’t as ha-ha funny as I had hoped it would be, and given the title of the book, Fun Home, it wasn’t as – well, fun! – as I thought it would be.
Having said that though. Now, a few days after putting down the book, I can’t help but think that the book was just fan-tastic.
Fun Home is Alison Bechdel telling her story of when she grew up. It’s a book in which she illustrates, in bits, how her life was before she found out that she was a lesbian, and a little about what happened after. And this life very much involves her dad. Who was a closet gay.
In the way that she told her story, it wasn’t like one of those books where you read from the beginning to the end, and the story also starts and ends in a linear pattern. It was more like how we ourselves remember things, when we replay some of the more prominent parts of our lives, like coming out to our parents, for example. It wasn’t as easy to follow for me, but it does seem more real, which for a memoir, is a good thing.
I think the way she described her dad, and her relationship with him was very profound. To say her dad wasn’t the easiest person might be an understatement. And their relationship, given Alison’s ‘masculinity’ and her father’s ‘love of flowers’ (polar opposites?) was easily complex. Father-daughter relationships always interest me, maybe because I feel a little of a push-pull between my own dad and myself.
There was something else I picked up as well: Alison Bechdel is a very bookish person. I kept looking out for the titles of books she read when she was on that ‘path of discovering her sexuality’. I quote her:
My realization at nineteen that I was a lesbian came about in a manner consistent with my bookish upbringing. A revelation not of the flesh, but of the mind.
How could you not love this woman?
Why I had to let it stew for a little, was probably because there were a lot of things going on in the story. Like how life usually is. It was about Alison discovering the fact that she was a lesbian. Then discovering that she’s not exactly the same as other lesbians. Not all gay people are the same. And this gets frustrating (in real life), because people tend to box people according to certain labels, and expect that everyone who carries that one label to behave the same way.
And then there was the fact that Alison’s dad was a closet gay. His wife knew that he was having affairs with some of his students, and even the babysitter. But why did his wife, Alison’s mother, stay with him? It’s not something discussed in the book, and maybe it’s because, since this is a memoir, Alison herself doesn’t know. Is it out of love that she stayed, that she still loved him? But if she did, wouldn’t separating be better, so that he could pursue his own love? But then again, given the state of those times, would it have been safer to stay married?
A lot of unanswered questions. A lot to think about.
How do I rate this book? Do I rate it like how I felt a few days ago when I just finished? Or do I rate it like how I feel now after having it boil in my head for a while?
For: LGBT Challenge