Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. She carefully examines the ambivalent and inextricable but unacknowledged connection she felt to her father (as well as her mother, yet in a more limited way)—a connection that did not become clear to her until she left home to attend college. Alison and her father, both highly intellectual and complex individuals, often used proxies to communicate and know each other. For example, their discussions about literature allowed them to subtly share their thoughts and feelings within clear boundaries. This coded communication reflects the deconstruction of her father’s character that constitutes the bulk of this memoir. Another aspect that distinguishes Fun Home from most other memoirs is Bechdel’s focus on her father—this text is equal parts autobiography and biography, just as it is equal parts visual and verbal. The blend of media and genre signifies Bechdel’s own difficulty in asserting her identity as separate from her father’s. As much as she wants to claim her individuality, she cannot escape her constant need to identify with her father. As much as she wants to relate her story through images, she cannot escape the need to use words, frequently conflating the two media by using images of words.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
By Alison Bechdel , 2007