Want to read with me? Follow this link to view the list and pick a book (or a few!) to read along with me. I'd love for this project to be collaborative, and will post anyone's thoughts beside my own.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Diana's thoughts on 'Fun Home'

Dear blob enthusiasts,

As promised, here are my sister Diana's thoughts on Fun Home from her read-along.

Happy Caturday, and thinking fondly of a certain horse prince cat and his unquenchable thirst for milk,
. . .

Diana's thoughts:

I liked what you wrote about reading at different paces, and it struck a chord with me when thinking about the way you approach a novel with graphics versus one with none. How, as an adult reader, rather than one who is, let's say, learning to read and requires pictures as clues to what the text means, do you make yourself follow the art as carefully as the writing? The eye is trained to process words at a certain speed by the time we achieve literacy, but does a novice graphic novel reader know how to assess the art with the same fluid motion?

I guess that I also don't completely understand the role of graphic novels in the larger context of literature. One book that you have coming up later on your list is Watchmen, which is on a primary level a reimagining of the comic book trope, and by using the same medium as comic precursors it is able to add several new layers of complexity and commentary onto an older format. It transcends the entire genre, in my opinion, but could never achieve that without capitalizing on the initial format. For that work, the graphic novel makes perfect sense. I can't quite put my finger on why Alison Bechdel felt the need to narrate her memoir. It's possible that it was simply a way for her to assemble a jumble of historical evidence (her journal, her father's letters and notes) and incorporate her own annotations after the fact without having to create a linear narrative for her readers or come to a holistic conclusion. I think that after having reread this I've gathered that she is someone who gets a little bogged down in facts and theories, and who may also find too much solace in analyzing the written word. While she could have taken this great research and contemplation to arrive at an understanding of her relationship with her father, maybe she was only able, psychologically, emotionally, to process her evaluation of these written correspondences, not the larger picture. I'm not saying she was lazy, but that she may lack the neural aptitude to connect the dots. To add to what you said about Bechdel's father's possible pedophilic actions, I would submit that any empathic, thoughtful human being would be disgusted or at least deeply worried at the thought that someone in their family could be invovled in such a thing. Bechdel really doesn't give us a single hint to an emotional response, which raises suspicions, for me, about her ability to garner a deeper social understanding of her family.

To wrap up my thoughts, I would just say that I find a lot of the book intriguing, raising parallels to my own life that I have mulled over since finishing reading, and for that reason alone I can't say that the book is without merit. Anything that leaves a mark on me past the final minutes of its completion deserves some respect. In the end, though, I have to say that my greatest compliments will always go to writers who create intelligent and also emotionally forceful works, and not one passage in Fun Home stirred my heart or soul. It's fully possible that the Broadway musical version of this work brought more energy and life to the piece than the original, and perhaps that is worth a look.

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