Alison Bechdel's award-winning graphic memoir, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, has been widely recognized for its literary sophistication. Themes familiar in the memoir genre—the author's intellectual and sexual development and her relationship with her father—are invariably filtered through her adventures in reading. This essay presents the different modes of reading Alison's encounters: reading for identification, reading for parallels and symbolic meanings, reading for the sensual pleasure of language. Bechdel arrives ultimately at her own understanding of reading as an ongoing struggle. Bechdel teaches her readers to be attentive, in particular, to the often-overlooked materiality of reading: the book as object and the page in its spatial layout, language as sensuous sound and rhythm, and the experience of both writers and readers as embodied participants in the process.


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pp. 133-165
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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