Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel is a memoire that charts her fraught relationship with her late father. Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the local funeral home, a place which Alison and her family often referred to as the “Fun Home”.
A recently “out” college lesbian, Alison spends most of Fun House dealing with the recent revelation of her late father’s hidden homosexuality. Just a few weeks into this discovery, Alison is left with a legacy of mystery and a series of memories surrounding their family’s secrets and shared love of literature. Subtle and rich, Fun Home masterfully presents a personal history in heartbreaking detail and with a wealth of allusion and meaning.
Concerned with Alison’s guilt over her father’s death, Fun Home traverses a sequence of seemingly haphazard events which lead our heroine down a complicated path of evidence and speculations. Clues in the book are often given though the guise of literary allusions, childhood memories and long-past conversations, yet often become muddled in nuances of sexuality and subjectivity.
Through episodes in Bechdel’s childhood, the author challenges the traditional trappings of memory and family history. Even from a young age, Bruce taught his daughter about the incompatibility of objective truths within a postmodern world. Ultimately, by recounting her father’s death, Alison comes to term with the disconnect fact and fiction, and even finds some solace in the divide.
As a result, Fun House is Bechdel’s journey through unanswerable questions and unassailable guilt. It is also a touching tale about life’s little uncertainties, and the realization that a journey is less a quest for answers, and more a reassurance in questions.