“The end of his lie coincided with the beginning of my truth.” (pg 117)
Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel “Fun Home”, which is now a Tony-award winning musical of the same name, is a precise documentation of her family’s secrets. Whether thick, unanswered or forgotten, they shape the story to be reminiscent of more than just “In Remembrance of Things Past” or “The Odyssey”, two of the many pieces of literature to which Bechdel alludes. The story of the Bechdels, as specific and exclusive as it is made to seem, is an allusion to every family and its own secrets.
“‘Fun Home’ is at its heart a story about a daughter trying to understand her father through the common and unspoken bond of their homosexuality,” The New York Times book review says. And though the “bond of their homosexuality” is unique to the Bechdels, every relationship searches for a point of commonality, and that’s where “Fun Home” has found its success.
As both a graphic novel and musical, “Fun Home” has taken the particular story of a small-town Pennsylvania family running a funeral home and related it to the masses. It’s a personal, gripping story that Bechdel has carefully sequenced for optimal impact. In a way, it reminds me of the story I grew up with and continue to see in my own home.
There’s a frame in the graphic novel where Alison’s mother unravels to her a long list of troubles, which Alison describes as her mother taking her “into her confidence”. It’s a scene that sticks so vibrantly in my mind, because Bechdel’s honest, exact and telling drawings illicit from me a strong sense of dejà-vu.
My sister and I saw the live musical for the first time in Minneapolis last week, and when we left we couldn’t help but list the similarities we saw in our own family. I imagine we are not the only ones.