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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
December 22, 2006

Time's 'Best Book' leaves author Bechdel speechless

Burlington, Vt.--Comic strip writer and artist Alison Bechdel received a high honor in the December 17 issue of Time magazine: her graphic memoir Fun Home was named the best book of 2006.

Bechdel, whose Dykes to Watch Out For runs biweekly in the Gay Peoples Chronicle, was at a loss for words.

I dont know quite what to say about the Time magazine thing, she admitted. I guess Im a bit speechless.

Im very happy about it, obviously, Bechdel continued. Its a great thing for queer stories, and for graphic novels, to get that kind of mainstream recognition.

She is, however, still surprised.

Im still a bit flummoxed by it. I mean, Fun Home is an odd little book, she concluded. Go figure.

Fun Home is an autobiography of her youth and her relationship with her father, who was himself either gay or bisexual. Shortly after she came out to him while in college, he came out to her, but he was run over by a truck weeks later.

The book has given her a chance to process her relationship with this enigmatic stranger in her home.

Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo, who wrote the Time piece, opined, The unlikeliest literary success of 2006 is a stunning memoir about a girl growing up in a small town with her cryptic, perfectionist dad and slowly realizing that a) she is gay and b) he is too.

They continue, Oh, and its a comic book: Bechdels breathtakingly smart commentary duets with eloquent line drawings. Forget about genre and sexual orientation: this is a masterpiece about two people who live in the same house but different worlds, and their mysterious debts to each other.

Despite the overwhelming success of and praise for the book, it has also been the subject of controversy.

In Marshall, Missouri, a woman named Louise Mills in October successfully petitioned the library board to remove Fun Home and Blankets by Craig Thompson from its shelves while a review committee examines the books and the process by which they are selected.

Mills argued that the graphic novel format attracts children who may be too young to deal with the adult topics in the two works.

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