Since I am still just dipping my toes into the graphic book genre, I figured that I should get to the classics first. I’d heard of this one for a long time (and the Bechdel test) and finally decided to give it a go. I continue to hope that the publishers of graphic novels can find a way to make them cheaper. This one is denser than most (in my limited experience) because there are lots of different kinds of texts – letters, notes, journal entries, excerpts from books, poems, etc.., so its 232 pages took me a fair amount of time.
The story is brutal – more tragic than comic, in my opinion. Bechdel conveys her coming of age during a confluence of events, both personal and public, in vivid terms. (Don’t read this one around your children!) In fact, her personal upbringing was necessarily public as her home also served as a funeral home.
There is a focus on Bechdel’s relationship with her father, a relationship that is often based on books, including the works of Homer, Joyce, and Proust. Now I’ve read all three authors – Homer more than the others – and still found these sections challenging.
It’s a powerful and vivid story. A keeper, for sure. A classic? Someone who knows more will have to explain its status to me.