Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Fun Home Revisited

I just wanted the opportunity to weigh in on Fun Home, which I bought last week and Rhian swiped (and posted about!) before I got a chance to read. I read it, and I have to agree with Rhian, it's fantastic.

I always thought DTWOF was a pretty good strip--Bechdel's drawing style has always appealed to me, and her characters are strong. But the strip was always a little too relentlessly contemporary for my taste, tending to focus more on the intersection of character and politics than that of character and memory. The latter being the milieu I hold most dear.

Wow, the book certainly gave me what I wanted. It's brilliant--the perfect blend of reminiscence, analysis, erudition and inspiration. Plus there's lots of stuff about Proust and Joyce in it, not to mention some hot and heavy lovin'.

There is one drawing of Bechdel's family sprawled out in their museumesque living room, sloppily going about their lives--playing with cars and Tinkertoys, watching TV, and so on. Her detached, aesthete father is scrunched up between the fainting couch and the bookcase with a big bucket of fried chicken in his lap, and I find this image amazingly moving--the kind of perfect character detail that literary fiction is supposed to be providing for our culture, but hasn't bothered to for some time. At the same time I was reading the new Acme Novelty Library and the latest from Paul Hornschemeier, and while they're both good (particularly the Ware, whose Jimmy Corrigan is one of the greatest examples of the form ever), Bechdel has them both beat. Fun Home is pretty much perfect, right down to the last panel.


rmellis said...

Huh, I hardly noticed the lovin'.

Anonymous said...

If it was dudes you woulda!

Writer, Rejected said...

As I've posted elsewhere about this book, Fun Home helped me to understand more about narrative structure than just about any other book I read this year. Something about the bold and also graphic story-telling cuts Bechdel made in the work really made me think about how to put a story together in novel form. It pretty much blew me away. (Plus girl-on-girl lovin' is always nice.)

Anonymous said...

Hey rejected, I'm with you about the narrative structure. It is very clever. One of the things I dig the most about Jimmy Corrigan is it's almost architectural dismantling of narrative flow--Bechdel's approach is different from that, nearly invisible in fact, but equally compelling.