Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by Jessica Moll & r & & r & Fun Home by Allison Bechdel & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & t's always a bit nerve-wracking when one of your beloved underground heroes goes mainstream. Of course, you're happy for her success. But what if she's signed away her soul? What if her contract with a big publisher means she's watered down her work to appeal to a "universal audience"?


And maybe you don't want to share her with the rest of the world.


So it was with a slightly uneasy happiness that I picked up my copy of Alison Bechdel's new graphic-novel memoir from Auntie's last week. Granted, Fun Home is quietly tucked away in the store's gay/lesbian section on the second floor. But still, I was shocked that Auntie's already had a copy -- I didn't even have to special order it. And to all outward appearances, there's nothing particularly subversive about this brand-new Houghton Mifflin hardcover, which sports an elegant yet somber jacket with nifty lace-like cut-outs and a dull metallic sheen. Except for a certain quirky tremble in the line, the cover art holds no trace of the hand that penned the wickedly funny graphic portrayals of lesbian life that characterize the Dykes To Watch Out For comic book series.


But if the book's prettiness is meant to seduce, it didn't take long for me to fall. In fact, once I dipped between the pages, I didn't want to come out. Bechdel has broadened her subject matter while maintaining her candor and dark humor. The memoir centers on Bechdel's relationship with her father, a closeted gay man who applies his sublimated obsessive-compulsive energy to everything he undertakes, from restoring the family's Gothic Revival house, to coercing his tomboy daughter into wearing dresses, to fixing up the corpses at the funeral home where he is director. Alison and her brothers are also expected to work at the family business, which they dub the "Fun Home." The morbidness of their daily life makes the Addams family seem normal.


Bechdel's graphic art has also achieved a new level of mastery. She's always had a knack for capturing gestures and using cues like newspaper headlines and food labels to add contextual depth to her stories. Now she's exploiting the graphic format like an expert cinematographer, layering her drawings with cultural and literary references from the very first page. But the book's most powerful scenes draw on intimate sources -- like Bechdel's own childhood journals, as well as the letters written by her father in the months leading up to his ambiguous "accident" and death.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Crash > Click > Cash
  • Crash > Click > Cash

    Lawyers and chiropractors already have your name, your address and the police report from your car accident — and they want you to hire them
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Starting Small
  • Starting Small

    A village of tiny houses in Spokane Valley could serve as a model for fighting homelessness in the region
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Drastic Action
  • Drastic Action

    Spokane among seven school districts sued by State Superintendent of Public Instruction; plus, trio of police-chief finalists are in town
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion

Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Lane Ends Ahead

    Spokane wants to improve a mile-long section of Monroe — but that means taking away two lanes
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Too Smart for School

    What happens when a 12-year-old prodigy tries to go to college in Spokane?
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

green zone


marijuana


Briefs


election 2016


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • Hopeless for Heroin
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • Letters from Mark
  • Letters from Mark

    A mother tries to understand the suicide of a son — just as he was regaining his freedom
    • Jan 14, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation