Fun Home

You know what, autobiography has to be honest. You have to rip your guts out to do it right. That's why Fun Home is so powerful. I loved it very very much.

Was particularly impressed with the perfect way Bechdel evokes the fun-eral atmosphere within her family. You could breathe it. I didn't think the detached, self-analysing tone was distant or unfeeling. That's what growing up in such an environment would feel like. And the reference-heavy narration didn't obfuscate. As Bechdel says herself -- that's the only way she could make sense of her family. In such arctic conditions, literature would be the only source of answers and solace.

And in any case, the book teaches you how to read as you read it -- spotting patterns, similarities, contrasts. Making comparisons. Creating binaries. Building a matrix of meaning out of those binaries. I approach literature in a similar obsessive-compulsive way (see here). On a baseline level, reading can be about crafting these satisfying little logical systems to make you feel in control, enlightened, better.

And wasn't the cartooning great? The mood and attitude of the characters was communicated with an immediacy words cannot keep up with. With one panel, Bechdel can say everything.

And, of course, it's all about growing up -- freeing yourself from the straitjacket of home and family, and creating your own identity. I didn't know much about most of the authors referenced (Wilde, Fitzgerald, Proust among others), but the riff on Joyce at the end completely captivated me. Yes! This is Bechdel's Portrait of the Artist and Ulysses rolled into one. With pictures! I can't ask for anything more.

No comments:

Post a Comment