Not a Fun Home at All
What a fantastic combination text and drawing is. In this graphic memoir author and cartoonist Alison Bechdel´s skilled, detailed and very expressive drawings replaces a load of text otherwise needed to describe facial expressions, the clothing, body language, the house they live in, furniture…
Restrained and with distance and consideration she recounts her problematic childhood and her parents cold and hostile marriage. Under a thin veneer of normality there were tons of suppressed feelings. Art and literature became a life line for her parents, both teachers. The mother channeled her frustration over her husband’s homosexuality and interest in young men (boys?) into work with her theatre group and the father held himself together with home decoration, gardening and literature. Not fun at all. Emotionally far, far away from each other and from their children.
They lived in a big house in a small town in Pennsylvania, home for the Bechdels since generations back, and with walking distance to their relatives. In those surroundings there´s probably no wonder that her father never came out with his homosexuality, something that Alison does on the other hand, when she, away from home, studying at the university, discovers that she is a lesbian.
Alison never goes into detail, doesn’t speculate over her parents or why they stay together. This is more of a description and all the whys that arises are left unanswered. What does she think about her father’s illegal relationships with too young boys? Does she wonder whether she herself is a lesbian because of her parent’s hostile marriage? But that doesn’t make the book less interesting. It’s tragic indeed, but the drawings, a certain light touch and the understanding that sometimes existed between father and daughter lifts it up a bit. And the fact that Alison got out and is doing fine away from the claustrophobic environment. I loved the drawings!