18 December 2009

Such freedom from convention was intoxicating.

It's really nice to read without having any other homework eating at me. Any time I sit down to do reading for class, some ridiculous, masochistic part of me says, 'No, this part has to be last; you actually enjoy this.' Since spring semester hasn't even started yet, I, of course, don't have any other assignments.

Yesterday, I picked up "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic," which I'll be reading for Gay and Lesbian Lit next semester. I must admit, as obvious as it may seem, the idea of reading ahead has never occurred to me. Marcy mentioned that she was going to try to get some reading done over winter break, and I thought, 'What a brilliant idea!! I can't ever think of something to read, and I'm always bored to tears at home!' and here I am.

This graphic memoir is the author's recollection of her sexually confused home, particularly in respect to her father, who died when she was twenty. He was hit by a truck--officially an accident, perhaps a suicide. Their family dynamic is very unique, and yet, I find it relatable despite completely different circumstances within my household.

Bechdel explains that her parents were both artists in multiple forms--her mother a pianist and actress, her father a literary scholar with a flair for interior design--and that often she interrupted their moments of escape.

"It's childish, perhaps, to grudge them the sustenance of their creative solitude, but it was all that sustained them, and was thus all-consuming. From their example, I learned quickly to feed myself. It was a vicious circle, though. The more gratification we found in our own geniuses, the more isolated we grew. Our home was like an artists' colony. We ate together, but otherwise were absorbed in our seperate pursuits. And in this isolation, our creativity took on an aspect of compulsion."

I see this so vividly in my own family. We are less of a unit and more several units coexisting in the same space. We don't hate each other. We don't necessarily like each other, but we certainly love each other with all of our hearts, and that stands for something, doesn't it?

She mentions another time that she feels as though there was an unspoken agreement that she would go on to live the artistic life that both of her parents gave up for a family. The unspoken request my parents seem to be making is interesting--it seems to me that they want me to do just as they have done, but WITHOUT that regret of giving something else up. It seems they want me to give up the same things, they just want me to "see" that it's worth it.

The problem, of course, is that my parents have accidently raised their polar opposites in children. While my brother maintains their political and religious beliefs, I honestly think (and hope...) that it's only a manner of time. I didn't consider other options until college; I'll consider him up in the air until he gets to college as well.

Basically, this book is very easy to fall into. It's easy to exchange your family's issues for those Alison brings up, and it's easy to remember those tiny psychological scars that parallel events left in you. This 'quick read' has a lot of depth, and I know that it will take two or three more quick reads through it to pick up half of the meaning in these anecdotes.

As a graphic narrative, it's a totally new genre for me, and I must say it is enjoyable. It forces me to see the story first and its typographical delivery second, with fair reason and to my advantage. It's definitely worth the read.

-- Post From My iPhone