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"Fun Home" without 'Facing the Facts'

FatCatRex's picture

 I first read "Fun Home" in Anne Bruder's class on Women's Life Writing last spring. In that class we talked about all forms of life writing--from autobiography to blogging. Towards the end of the semester, we concluded our study with Bechdel's "Fun Home." Unfortunately I don't have my notebook from last semester here to tell me exactly what we discussed with respect to Bechdel, but because it was at the end of the semester, I do remember trying to apply and wrap up many themes we found throughout the course, to Bechdel's work as well. Throughout the course we spent significant amounts of time discussing what gives an author the authority and credibility not just to write, but to write in a way such that we the reader believe them. In the case of "Fun Home," the graphic nature of the narrative (literally and figuratively) certainly lends an intimacy that would be otherwise lacking. And when the intimate details are so tragic and moving, as they often are in "Fun Home," it lends an added sense of authenticity to the tone. How could someone lie about the game of Airplane played with their father, particularly when it has a tragic corallery in that father's actual death?

Another way in which we discussed "Fun Home" had to with the many literary parallels and references made throughout the book. Bechdel obviously was aware and careful to manipulate these references as she wished, and this also works to create an air of authenticity and depth that otherwise would not be, even if the version of the story sans those references is the Truth with a capital T, isn't the 'truth' with the tale of Icarus and the Ulysses reference, much more compelling..? Good, I thought so to...

I am very excited to see where our own class discussion ventures with respect to "Fun Home," because there is so much to be said about the layers of truth and non-truth in this piece--not the least of which is around the parallel sexualities of Alison and her father. The death of one coinciding with the beginning of the other's life (as an out human being)...Its a pretty incredible story, fully true or not, seems not to matter because the overall effect is so powerful. For me at least, this is a story in which I do not what to know if some details have been fudged or switched to align appropriately--instead, I just want to read and re-read this and bask in the glow of its prose, fiction or non.


And because I love Alison Bechdel, and I know some of us are interested in the 'truth' given to a text read in the voice of its author, here is a great clip of her reading excerpts from "Fun Home." There are tons of other videos of her drawing process and her cats, if those non-fiction tidbits interest you, as well :)




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