Fun Home is one my favourite books, so I was happy for the chance to re-read it in one of my English classes this semester. It definitely, definitely stands up to a second reading. In fact, I plan on writing my final essay about it, because there’s just so much to it.
There’s the obvious interesting autobiography element, and the strength of the illustrations, and the parallel between Bechdel and her father, but I had forgotten that it’s also a deeply literary work.
If there’s anything I like more than lesbians or books, it’s lesbian books. And if there’s anything I like more than lesbian books, it’s books about lesbian books. Fun Home is the perfect mix of these interests. Bechdel’s parents as she was growing up were both English teachers, and books are a constant presence throughout the novel. She understands her family through comparing them to books and authors. She often has excerpts from books that take up a whole panel, and even the books in the background usually get a title and author.
Most of the references I didn’t fully understand, because I’m not particularly familiar with the Western canon. I’m sure, though, that Fun Home would be even richer if you are.
Bechdel’s coming out was also wrapped in books: she realized her lesbianism by stumbling across a description of a lesbian in a book, she devoured lesbian books in her coming out process, and she parallels her coming out with the Odyssey.
Fun Home also has an interesting, twisting narrative structure. We leap forward and backward in time, but it never feels forced.
All in all, I had remembered how enjoyable Fun Home was, but I don’t think I remembered how fascinating it is, and how much depth there is to it. I can’t wait to read Bechdel’s upcoming graphic memoir, Are You My Mother?