This comic book spooked me a little. Its a graphic memoir about a dysfunctional relationship between a father and his daughter, and the secret identity of the father. To put it bluntly, the father is gay, and so is the daughter, but the father never admits the truth, and dies at the age of 44. The father, by family profession, happens to be an undertaker, and the fun house is a metaphor for the funeral home.
The book opens up to a father who is obsessive about the aesthetic decor of his house. He is perennially fussing about the furniture, and condemns his kids to cleaning chores and to assist him with his endless house projects. At that point, I never suspected the closet identity of the father, and therefore wasn't prepared for the darker tone the book assumes further into the story. The daughter mentions a lot of literary writers including Scott Fitzgerald who she thinks was her father's favorite author and his role model. The fact that the two died at the same age seemed too uncanny a coincidence as per the author.
While the writing is terrifyingly good, and the poetic references to literature are intriguing, it was challenging at times to wade through some of the text, and to decipher its precise meaning. Some of the scenes made me squirm, and some of the content unnerved me a little. The author feels positive that her father's death was a suicide. She speculates on some of the reasons that might have driven him to it: the fact that he was forced to hide his true identity, and his innate nature, and when the balance between conforming and being repressed exploded, her father couldn't take it any more, and killed himself. She cites several quotes and the literary content he was reading, which seemed to hint at the suicidal nature of her father.
The book talks about the father's time in the army, his subsequent courting of his present day wife, his male lovers including kids under eighteen, his obsession with his library and home decor, and his emotional detachment while being a mortician. The author reminisces about her times in the fun house, and how her father was totally indifferent while handling a dead body, he wasn't tense, but seemed just at ease, and hyper as his regular self. It did give me the creeps contemplating an adult who could be so cavalier about handling the dead. This book is also about the author's journey into discovering and coming to terms with her sexual identity.
On the whole, this book put me in a sad state. It just seemed that some people never take/get the chance to live their one true life, and in the end they perish as a neurotic entity. The author thinks that because her father lived his whole life in a small town where people judged and disparaged other people way too often, he never could venture out to be his gay self.
This book cites a lot of Albert Camus books, which was interesting. It has received a lot of critical acclaim, and the author is recognized for her literary superpowers. So, I would recommend reading this book, but be prepared for a little bit of recondite prose, and a discomfiting theme.
The love for books & a hunger for stories was programmed into my DNA. And, sooner than later, life experiences sealed the deal. Books have saved me, transformed my life, enlightened me and have shown me the path I must walk. In a way, far too many books have played the role of kindred spirits and guides, leading the seeker in me to answers and paving a way for a new way of life. Books have helped me keep my wits, my sense of wonder, my sense of mystery and curiosity & my sanity in a life that has been anything but predictable and normal.