Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Alison Bechdel earned an A.A. at Simon’s Rock of Bard College in 1979 and a B.A. at Oberlin College in 1981. Sadly, it seems the people of the internet are largely uneducated on this topic so that’s really all the information I could gather. She barely even mentions college in her memoir. The most detail she goes into about college is how she spent a year and a half “blissfully English-class-free” but then she realized that she wanted to be a writer and that she needed English class to do so. Probably the most useful thing she learned in her college years was that she was a lesbian; certainly not in the curriculum, but a vitally important realization anyway. Education is really quite a subjective topic anyway, we all learn from our daily lives and Alison learned a lot in her daily life for sure. She learned about family relations, she learned about hiding sexual desires, she even learned about preparing cadavers for funerals. Though Alison didn’t have to pay tuition for this education, she certainly paid her dues with frustration.

*we interrupt this blog post for a link to a very amusing memoir from stand-up comedian Demetri Martin* 


It’s not exactly a memoir but it is certainly self-analytical and reflective of his life. We as the audience learn a lot about him and how he spent his life learning. He talks even about how he learned a multitude of “useless talents” through college because that’s the way he functions, always creating challenges for himself.

Often we are educating ourselves in more ways than we realize and in areas totally unrelated to what we intended to learn about but equally valuable.

-Steven Twigg

Monday, 28 November 2011

Mindless Banter 5: Between the Parents

It is mentioned in Alison Bechdel's Fun Home that her parents don't get along very well. While it is true that every marriage has its' arguments, it doesn't tend to consist of things crashing and objects flying.

The second time Isabel, Alison's mother spoke, all she said was "whorehouse" (page 21) as a comment to a chandelier Bruce had brought home. Alison's parents both appear to be people of very few words.

On page 75 was the first scene of the two parents interacting intimately. Before Bruce left on a weekend trip, he gave Isabel a quick peck on the lips and scurried out the door. The second intimate interaction was the next panel on the same page, and Isabel is seen placing her hand on his back while they sit around and watch television.

These are both very minor interactions and Bruce and Isabel don't show any signs of affection towards each other. In fact, Bruce has the tendency to do the opposite, lashing out at her, swearing and calling her demeaning names. He once yelled out, "You're the one with the problem, crazy bitch!" (page 77) as he tore out pages from a library book.

Also on page 78-79, Bruce yells at her for not being able to read a map. Isabel gets out of the car, away from Bruce, only to shortly return to have Bruce call her a crazy bitch for doing so.

A part of me thinks that the reason Bruce was so harsh on Isabel was because he was afraid that she would probably want to leave him if she knew he was having affairs with men. However, "too good for her own good", Isabel ended up staying with him even though she knew.

Another part of me thinks that Isabel really loved Bruce. I think in an attempt to better him, maybe pull him away from his habits with other men, for his sake and the kids'. She stayed with Bruce even though it felt like she knew he didn't really love her.

Just a quick humorous post about what kinds of parents are the worst! I have to agree and say some of those would be rather awful... .  Link!

Post by Catherine Park

"Top 10 Parents from Hell." TheSite.org. The Site, 04 Nov. 2005. Web. 28 Nov. 2011. <http://www.thesite.org/sexandrelationships/familyandfriends/family/top10parentsfromhell>.

  Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

(Self) Publishing S.S.

"An author can now go from manuscript to book in a matter of minutes — easily and more  lucratively than has hitherto been possible"

As someone who's interested in writing my own novels (hopefully, one day), I've done my fair share of digging up helpful information on self-publishing, which is the way of the future (pretty much). What was once seen as a vain thing to do is slowly being classified as a smart thing to do. 

Anytime you get in bed with Mr. Big-Publisher-Man, you get perks - that is, if they even call you back or like your work - but there are also serious downfalls, such as giving up control of your work. They can decide to change the title, edit it down, take characters out etc. and while they might know what's best for you in some cases, they don't know what's best for you always.

Fun Home was first published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2006, which struck me as odd, seeing as how they are a publisher of mostly educational textbooks, instructional works and reference materials and was ranked the 10th worst place to work in America, according to a glassdoor.com survey in 2009**

Lulu.comBob Young, the founder and CEO of Lulu - whose raison d'etre is to "turn authors into publishers" - is just one of the many people whose taken advantage - or helped us - by letting authors publish their own works. Others include Blurb, Smashwords, Amazon etc. 

In a 2010 article, Young let it slip that "in August Lulu will partner with a Mississauga [Ontario] printing company to establish a Canadian footprint." Pretty cool stuff!

All this said, self-publishing isn’t just about paying someone to print your book. If you want to find a readership, you have to hustle hardcore; you have to consider that you must market the hell out of it, get it into bookstores, try to get people to buy it, get it reviewed etc. The time and money it takes getting it in people's hands is almost as much or more than the time and money it takes to write it. It takes a certain person to do it successfully, but it can be worth the work if you want the book to be 100% yours; you idea, your design etc. 

One of the people I follow - mostly because her Excel spreadsheet has done wonder to help me - is Jenny Blake. Her spreadsheet called 'The Ultimate Book Marketing' can be found here which goes through the process of what to do with your new piece of writing, from marketing to promotion to social media etc. Pretty helpful stuff!

Makes me wonder what Alison's novel would have looked/been like if she could have had 100% say in it. Maybe the original title was "I'm a Dyke and my Father Committed Suicide Because of it" for all we know! (PS; that's a joke).

- Sabrina

"A Spreadsheet for the Self-Published." The Domino Project. Amazon. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. <http://www.thedominoproject.com/>.

"List of Top U.S. Places to Work: Survey| Reuters." Business & Financial News, Breaking US & International News | Reuters.com. 16 Dec. 2009. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/12/16/us-workplace-bestcompanies-list-idUSTRE5BF0MV20091216?pageNumber=4>.

"Self-publishing: Doing It Yourself & Doing It Better | Afterword | Arts | National Post."National Post | Canadian News, Financial News and Opinion. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. <http://arts.nationalpost.com/2010/06/12/self-publishing-doing-it-yourself-doing-it-better/>.


"Fun Home revolves around the themes of gender roles, homosexuality, and fatherhood. Bechdel tells her story by interweaving all the themes into one piece that's nearly as complicated as her childhood itself"(personal).


Bechdel and Bruce both struggled with gender roles and sexual orientation. The idea of what a man and a woman should be in society forces them to fit the description. Probably since they weren't sure on how to respond to these feelings. Back in the day, most people were really against these things.
Therefore, forcing them to keep these hidden desires private like Bruce's affairs with other men. By the time she was in college, Bechdel slowly comes to realize her sexual orientation and decides to be more open about it. Her courage to do so led her father to open up a bit as well.


It was only after she came out about her lesbianism, did she soon began to realize that her and her father were very common than she thought. Their homosexuality brought them closer together now that they have that common bond. "She's able to draw connections and realize things she was never able to as a kid. She let's the reader understand her childhood, but only in the way she herself was able to come to understand it; the reader is only able to grasp the full meaning when they reach the end and can look back on everything that proceeded it"(personal). Despite of their bumpy relationship and Bruce's lacking in the fatherhood department, Bechdel knows he cares and loved her in his own way. "But in the tricky reverse narration that impels our entwined stories, he was there to catch me when I leapt"(pg 232).

Here's Alison Bechdel on television! Very funny how they really emphasize Bechdel being all "alone". Sounds quite depressing.  
"Analysis and Evaluation of the Themes in Fun Home - Graphic Novels." Www.personal.psu.edu. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. <http://www.personal.psu.edu/kjo5071/blogs/graphic_novels/2010/10/analysis-and-evaluation-of-the-themes-in-fun-home.html>. 

Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print.

Heather Agoncillo