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Putting the fun back in funeral and spicing it with tenderness, grit and regret, Alison Bechdel's memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic grabs you from the first page and never lets go. It's like reading someone's diary, because essentially it is someone's diary, but this has to be the most painstakingly artful diary ever created. It helps, too, that Bechdel's gothic-tragic family is unconventional, to almost Tennessee Williams proportions. Her dad, who works at a funeral home in rural Pennsylvania, is tortured by a secret he can only partly hide. Her mom does theater and tries to fit the happy-spouse mold. Alison, meanwhile, grows up exploring her sexuality and intellect with equally intense self-analysis. The book's meshing of text and art is so smooth and organic you don't even notice it unless you notice how well it's done. Bechdel clearly understands exactly which parts of a story pictures can tell better than words. Which isn't to say she's a slouch as a wordsmith; she reads a lot, and it shows. Layering her family's tale with shades of Proust, Camus and Icarus, Bechdel gives her story depth while avoiding pretentiousness.