I'm aware that there's massive devotion to and love for this book out there and that many of those fans are well versed in the genre of graphic novels and memoirs. I am clearly coming to the Fun Home fandom late in the game and I am a beginner in the world of graphic narratives, so I don't have an experienced place from which to articulate my views.
I don't recall ever having any sort of prejudice against graphic novels and memoirs - I haven't read many quite simply because they just never really came onto my radar until the last couple of years - but I sense there are still readers out there who avoid these books because they have been told or sense that they aren't serious or have depth. I mean, it's a book with pictures, so who could take it seriously?
If you happen to have this attitude, Fun Home is the memoir to dramatically alter your sensibilities. Bechdel shares the story of her father's life; a closeted homosexual (or possibly bisexual) married to a woman and with children. When Bechdel finally comes to the realization that she is a lesbian in her early college years (a realization apparently way overdue), she tells her parents, who retaliate with her father's secrets, and shorty thereafter her father dies, either the victim of being run over by a truck or, as Bechdel believes, the intentional victim of being run over by a truck. Bechedel, a scrupulous researcher who thinks about every element in her life with great care and attention (she read dozens of books on behavior analysis, feminist theory and lesbian and gay history - from novels to Dr. Spock - before ever even attempting a sexual relationship), can't help but wonder if her father's possible suicide is due to her revelations.
I consider myself a reasonably literate, educated, and book-obsessed woman but some of the words Bechdel chooses and some of the literary references she makes in this narrative sent my fingers searching Google or fell beyond my scope, even if I've read the book she references. All this is not to say that it's too high minded or anything, just that it's a lovely intellectual and emotional challenge.
I hadn't yet read this classic in part because it's one of those books so talked up that it's easy to disbelieve the chatter. Now I realize that it will be a graphic memoir by which I will likely judge others from here forward. Elegant.
I've already started Are You My Mother?