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This post first appeared on my Red Room blog.

My favorite memoir is Alison Bechdel’s FUN HOME. The subject matter intrigued me—Bechdel’s dad worked as a funeral director, and my dad was a gravedigger. I couldn’t wait to discover her perspective on life and death.

What greeted me was the most expertly woven and dense memoir I’ve ever read. There’s the surface story—growing up with a father who harbors secrets and her own budding awareness of her sexuality. But beneath that are complicated, rich themes of stories that circle around, books as metaphor, and intellectual curiosity.

In shaping my own memoir, I referred often to FUN HOME. I took extensive notes and plotted out the action on each page to discern patterns. Upon each reading I would discover something new and often exclaimed “Brilliant!” to myself. FUN HOME is like a writing workshop in book form. A perfectly executed memoir that all aspiring writers should have on their shelves.

What’s your favorite memoir, and why?