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Cruddyby Lynda Barry
Cartoonist Lynda Barry proves to be a formidable writer with this novel of teen alienation. Shocking, outlandish violence is balanced by lyrical, insightful prose. Cruddy is a homicidal road story, a coming-of-age tale, and a meditation on adolescence and uncertainty.
Synopses & Reviews
Roberta Rohbeson, 1971. Her overblown, drug-induced teenage rant against a world bounded by "the cruddy top bedroom of a cruddy rental house on a very cruddy mud road behind cruddy Black Cat Lumber" soon becomes a detailed account of another story. It is a story about which Roberta has kept silent for five years, until, under the influence of a pale hippie called the Turtle and a drug called Creeper, her tale giddily unspools...Roberta Rohbeson, 1967. The world of Roberta, age eleven, is terrifyingly unbounded, a one-way cross-country road trip fueled by revenge and by greed, a violent, hallucinatory, sometimes funny, more often horrific year of killings, betrayals, arson, and a sinister set of butcher knives, each with its own name. Welcome to Cruddy, Lynda Barry's tale of the two intertwined narratives set five years - an eternity - apart, which form the backbone of Roberta's life. Cruddy is a wild ride indeed, a fairy tale cum low-budget horror movie populated by a cast of characters that will remain vivid in the reader's mind long after the final page.
"Barry is an expert in the too-often neglected vernacular of working-class childhood in urban America, and Roberta, with her haunting and often jubilant voice, is a typical Barry kid, screwed by circumstance but still searching for integrity. Cruddy adds to Barry's already impressive body of work another fine novel that is tender, goofy, scary and thrilling." Heidi Bell, Salon
"Cutting across two narratives, Roberta's story is an engrossing voyage through trash America and the bleak futures native to it....Cruddy is a superbly executed book with turns that surprise and thrill, and with an ambiguous ending that leaves equal room for hope and despair. Joe Garden, Onion.com
Roberta Rohbeson begins her book in 1971, in what starts out as a drug-fueled teenage rant that gradually fades into the story of two cross-country trips she made with her father five years earlier — a story she has kept to herself since she was found wandering the desert covered with blood. Illustrations.
On a September night in 1971, a few days after getting busted for dropping acid, a sixteen-year-old curls up in the corner of her ratty bedroom and begins to write.
Now the truth can finally be revealed about the mysterious day long ago when the authorities found a child, calmly walking in the boiling desert, covered with blood.
The girl is Roberta Rohbeson, and her rant against a world bounded by "the cruddy top bedroom of a cruddy rental house on a very cruddy mud road" soon becomes a detailed account of another story, one that she has kept silent since she was eleven.
Darkly funny and resonant with humanity, Cruddy, masterfully intertwines Roberta's stories — part Easy Rider and part bipolar Wizard of Oz. These stories, the backbone of Roberta's short life, include a one-way trip across America fueled by revenge and greed and a vivid cast of characters, starring Roberta's dangerous father, the owners of the Knocking Hammer Bar-cum-slaughterhouse, and runaway adolescents. With a teenager's eye for freakish detail and a nervous ability to make the most horrible scenes seem hilarious, Cruddy is a stunning achievement.
About the Author
Lynda Barry is the creator of the nationally syndicated Ernie Pook's Comeek comic strip and the author of the novel and play The Good Times Are Killing Me. Once a commentator for National Public Radio, she lives in Evanston, Illinois.
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