Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

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If you are ever in the mood for an obscure, independent film, try-out The Station Agent. The film was shot in my hometown, and I work at the library they filmed at. The portion they show of the library is half of the floorspace there. Being able to pick out the details of the movie is really cool, but mind-blowing. A sliver of my world being indirectly-documented in film history (Hey, that film won the same award as Juno, Precious and Ghost World) is nothing compared to what Alison Bechdel did to her hometown, and family in Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.

As soon as I checked this graphic novel out, I knew that I was in for a ride. The librarian informed me that Bechdel grew-up in Lock Haven/Beech Creek, and she couldn’t believe the terrible “things” that “Ally” wrote about. The librarian watched Bechdel and her brothers grow-up in Beech Creek, and she was cryptic about the material of the novel. That seriously intrigued me. What great secrets were hidden in Beech Creek?

Bechdel transported the reader back to Beech Creek, circa 1970’s- her convoluted childhood with her distant mother and her closeted-homosexual father. Bechdel looks back on one Summer that, at the time, wasn’t extraordinary, but most exhibited the fractured pieces of her family. The story also follows her journey of discovering her sexuality- which has its “thunder” taken away when her father comes out as well (She knew him to always want to be the center of attention). It’s a story about hindsight, and what people should of knew, and maybe they did know, but didn’t want to acknowledge. A school teacher having affairs with young men in the Central Pennsylvania community that he grew-up in would just be preposterous.

Last Spring, I dated a local guy, and I met his humongous extended family. “Local” doesn’t begin to describe this guy’s connection to the area- “Native” would be more appropriate (He showed me a street that was named after his family). Fun House became very surreal when I recognized the last names Bechdel mentioned in the story- they were surnames of my ex’s relatives. Bechdel wrote candidly about the area, and questioned why her “metropolitan” father would stick around and settle himself for a life that his whole family already lived. She drew the area in the way, from my experiences, that I see it and how I saw my ex’s family (They were very nice, and I actually miss them more than I miss the ex); matriarch-centered and content with life in their town lines. Bechdel didn’t follow the life of her extended family though, and is the subject of gossip at the public library now.

Everyone has a story. Maybe it’s not cut-out for a movie deal, or bestseller’s list material, but, for every story you have, there is at least one interested listener.

Thumbs: 2 out of 2

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