Fun Home is the book that made me fall in love with graphic novels. Funny, sad and beautiful, Bechdel’s memoir is the story of a girl growing up and coming out while at the same time trying to come to terms with her father and his death. Drawing on journal entries, letters and the literature that she and her father read, Bechdel reconstructs (and deconstructs) her family’s past in a narrative form that just works.
Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not Patti Smith’s. This memoir is the story of her and artist Robert Mapplethorpe’s struggle to pay their rent and be saved through their art in New York City during the 1960s and 70s. Smith’s writing is elegant and honest, and I was impressed by the directness with which she recalled her younger self’s feelings and perceptions. Just Kids is a book about growing up and living on one’s own – but at the heart of the story is the passionate friendship between Patti and Robert.
These essays cover a wide range of topics, including a California murder trial, Haight-Ashbury hippies, Howard Hughes, quickie Las Vegas weddings, and the act of keeping a notebook. Didion’s analyses of public events are as poignant as her reflections on more private behaviors; she is as suspicious and critical of what motivates Las Vegas brides as she is of her own impulse to write. Although at times a bit polemical, Didion’s combination of thoughtful observations and spot-on sentence structure makes her style interesting and enjoyable to read. Favorite one-liner: “I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not.”