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Fun Home


With Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, Alison Bechdel has convinced me that the term "graphic novel" is not an oxymoron. Without naming names, I'll just say that none of the other exemplars of this genre amounted, in my view, to more than a stunt. None of them seemed adult enough to merit association with conventional novels. Chris Ware's work has much more in common with cinema than it does with prose fiction; it's frozen film.

Technically, Fun Home is a memoir, not a novel. But it utilizes the narrative techniques of fiction. Its structure reminds me somewhat of that of Sophie's Choice. A handful of facts are established early, and then the gaps between them are filled in, culminating in a climactic recognition for the reader as well as for the narrator. The motion of the story is recursive, and with each pass the retrieved material takes on a deeper richness. Finally, there is Ms Bechdel's very firm grasp of her motifs. Where other entrants in this field do not appear to have done very much reading, it's clear that Alison Bechdel has had a thoroughgoing literary education. Indeed, her linkages to Proust and Joyce are completely successful, not for a moment appliquéd. Her craftmanship is astonishing.

I'm astonished and I'd like to remain astonished for a little while....

Continue reading about Fun Home at Portico.


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