Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fun Home - by Alison Bechdel


I first read about Bechdel's book earlier this year when I learned that the South Carolina State legislature was planning to cut $52,000 from the budget of the College of Charleston for using this work in its freshmen "College Reads" Program due to the homosexual themes of the work. Eventually a compromise was reached which allowed the College to keep its budget, but in a truly Orwellian move, the legislature required that the $52,000 be spent on materials that taught about the Constiution. More about the controversy and other attempts to ban this graphic novel can be found here.

Bechdel's graphic memoir tells of her childhood growing up in a funeral home in Pennsylvania with a closeted gay father. It also tells of her own awakening as a lesbian in college. Libraries played an important role for her. Bechdel tells both of working in her college library (putting bar codes on books) and of finding solace in the public library. She compares the lure of the books in the library to Odysseus' siren song. And learns that in the public library she can get the information she seeks without judgement. This may also be the first book I read that contains a poem about a library.

I decided to read this book for Banned Books Week since the focus this year is on graphic novels. When I searched for it on the iBooks store I discovered that it was only available in electronic format in Spanish. I was just about ready to look for a hard copy instead, and then I remembered that I speak Spanish! Some of the vocabulary presented a challenge for me, but I wasn't sorry to learn some interesting new words!

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