Fun Home at College – Literature or Pornography

Incoming freshman to the College of Charleston, my alma mater, this fall are asked to Fun Home - A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdelread Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel as part of their freshman orientation. According to the College, “All faculty and incoming students are encouraged to read this selection as it will be included in the academic curriculum and in activities throughout the year.” Now even though my daughter is coming into the college as a higher level transfer student, the College still gave her a copy of the book so she would know what was going on.

I saw the book briefly when she got it, thought it was interesting because it was a graphic novel, and then thought nothing more about it. Until last week. It seems that a conservative action group and some parents are none too thrilled with the choice of Fun Home as freshman reading. In fact, Oran Smith, president and chief operating officer of Palmetto Family, went so far as to call the book pornographic. So with that kind of furor starting to brew in the papers and on TV, how could I resist reading the book to see what it was all about?

Do you want to know what I found? Well, what I found was a very well written story about a girl’s coming of age, how she dealt with finding her own identity, how she managed to love her father despite a difficult relationship with him that was only made more difficult by the discovery that he had a secret life, and then how all of this wraps around her father’s apparent suicide and the affect of that upon the entire family. Heavy, but pretty normal stuff for coming of age literature. The two things that set this work apart are that both the author / daughter and the father are gay, and that it is a graphic novel. Being a graphic novel means you get to actually see some of the situations that would just be verbally described in a regular literary work.
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Buying Books

Well, Andra Watkins said I don't buy enough books. You know, pay out money. (She denies it, but I plan on placing the blame squarely on her.) At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their LibrariesSo I am starting a list to prove her wrong. I may slowly go back and add more from past months, but at the moment it is just a current list.

Now Andra will deny she said this. And in her defense, this is how she responded to my original posting of this.

I said I was appalled at the number of people who say to my face that they will not buy a book when they can download stuff for free, even as they complain about how awful most of it is, when those same people know I am trying to convert to making money by selling books. You want better quality books, people? PAY FOR BOOKS. Many of them are actually worth the price of the cup of coffee you don't need anyway.

Sure. Whatever. From that I get that I should be buying more books. Ok. Fine with me.

So check and what will be an ever growing list of "Books Bought".


World Book Day

Today is World Book Day! Much bigger in the UK and Ireland than it is here in the US, the website says, “World Book Day moves into its second decade in the UK and Ireland in 2008. Over this relatively short period World Book Day has become firmly established as the biggest annual event promoting the enjoyment of books and reading.” World Book Day Penguins

What could be better? With the ever decreasing number of readers and, at least in my mind, the ever decreasing literacy and intelligence level in this country, we should really get behind this. In fact I am going to do my part. This evening I will take both of my kids to either Barnes And Noble or Books-A-Million and buy them each a book. And then I will somehow make sure they both read those books. I would much rather go to a small local bookseller, but unfortunately those are drying up faster than the Georgia water supply.

So, do yourself and us all a favor and promote World Book Day. Go to the library. Buy a kid a book. Pick up some inexpensive books and donate them to a school, church, or civic group. Or better yet, sit down and read a book to a young child who has yet to find the joy. No that would be a gift worth giving.