Sunday, February 8, 2009
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
by Alison Bechdel
Alison finally gets the courage to tell her parents she's a lesbian. She writes them a letter and then anxiously waits for them to contact her, when they do she can't believe what her mother tells her.
Then a phone call in which she dealt a staggering blow.
"Your father has had affairs. With other men."
I'd been upstaged, demoted from protagonist in my own drama to comic relief in my parent's tragedy.
This struck me hard..she's not willing to admit that her father's death more than likely had nothing to do with her coming out as a lesbian...she writes:
For a wild moment I entertained the idea that my father had times his death with this in mind, as some sort of deranged tribute.
But that would only confirm that his death was not my fault. That, in fact, it had nothing to do with me at all.
And I'm reluctant to let go of that last, tenuous bond.
I measured my father against the grimy deer hunters at the gas station uptown, with their yellow workboots and shorn-sheep haircuts. And where he fell short, I stepped in.
"Where's your barrette?"
"It keeps the hair out of your eyes"
So would a crewcut
I counted as an indication of my success the nickname bestowed on me by my older cousins.
"Hey, Butch! Think fast!"
No one needed to explain what it meant.
Allison and her father go into a diner one day for lunch. A woman walks in dressed much like a man and her first thoughts were
I didn't know there were women who wore men's clothes and had men's haircuts. But like a traveler in a foreign country who runs into someone from home--someone they've never spoken to, but know by sight--I recognized her with a surge of joy.
Dad recognized her too.
"Is that what you want to look like?"
What else could I say?
But the vision of the truck-driving bulldyke sustained me through the years...as perhaps it haunted my father.
Allison was taking English classes at college and shared the list with her father for over a year and a half but after awhile she felt that his excitement was suffocating her. She realized that she had neglected to do a short project and so she signed up for James Joyce's Ulysses and decided to share this with her dad.
Home for Christmas, I found dad's delight about Ulysses a bit galling.
"Here, take this. It's the copy I used in college."
But it was nice to have his attention.
Can I write in it?
"Here's Dubliners, too. The first three stories are life drafts from portrait."
I realized I had missed it, however vicarious it may have been.
"And the dead. you have to read the dead. Or at least the very least, the last paragraph."
In a burst of tenderness, I encouraged him further.
So...what should I read this weekend?
Her father's face is elated...
"Hmm..let me think."
This interaction between the father and daughter made me full of emotions and brought glaringly into the light my loss of relationship with my own dad. After locking her father out of her English reading life, she realizes how much happiness her father receives by sharing this passionate interest with her. The drawings are spectacular, as you're reading the text and looking at the drawings it makes everything that much more intense.
The last page was absolutely perfect....and made me sit there and reflect on everything that I had just read.