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CRUDDY By: Lynda Barry July 25, 2010

Posted by lycan librarian in book reviews, Books and reading.
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     First, thank you to Rich Figel for insisting I read this book, and keeping at me until I did. Rich is chock full of interesting insights and ideas, and he always inspires me and blows my mind with his grasp of  the art of writing. His blog address is squashedgecko.wordpress.com.

     Now on to CRUDDY. This is an amazing novel by an equally amazing writer — Lynda Barry is a pure delight. But delightful is not a word most people would use to describe this harsh and morbid book about an unfortunate girl whose life is absolutely, positively, without a doubt, 100% cruddy.  The story is told in chapters that switch between Roberta’s home life and adventures with her parents as they happen, and her narrative of the events as she relates them, while whacked out on various drugs, to the motley band of  people she considers friends. Her parents have the steps of how to create a psychopath down pat, and they utilize their talents constantly and consistently.  I don’t even want to get into the plot because it is so mind-boggling that I don’t want to give the reader a heads up on anything that happens. It is far better to sit with your nose glued in the book and your gaping jaw dropped open as one scene vomits into the next with unpredictable drama. I will reveal that the reader roots, with all their might, for this unhappy girl, because shining out from somewhere within the cruddy exterior is clearly an  intelligent, remarkable, creative and innovative person.

     The voice in this book is quite accurately that of a teenager, but, somehow, it is the voice of you as a teenager. Teens from all backgrounds could easily and immediately relate to Roberta, but the content might be a bit too graphic for some. As for adults, it all comes back to you as you read — that angst, apathy, mixture of love and hatred, awe, and the thin tentacled rays of hope that exist in the psyches of those strange, strange creatures called human teenagers. Barry has openly revealed that she had a less than happy childhood and suffered abuse at the hands of her diabolical mother, so this books serves well as a lesson to anyone dealing with or raising a child. Those little barbs and darts you fling at kids stick, whether they’re said in jest, anger, or spite, and sadly, the most hurtful ones work their way in deeper and deeper until they become a part of that person.  If I were queen of the world, before anyone would be allowed to have a child, they would be made to read this book (and take an IQ test.)

     I wonder why nobody has made a movie based on of this incredible novel.

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Comments»

1. richfigel - July 26, 2010

Thanks for the kind words! But more importantly, thank you for telling your blog readers about CRUDDY — a book that deserves to be read and reread.

As a screenwriter, I can see why it hasn’t been made into a movie. This is the sort of material that depends so much on “tone” and the narrator’s voice, and that’s difficult to translate to the big screen. Plus, you’d have to switch back and forth between the present and past through flashbacks and voice-over narration — the bane of good screenwriting!

And yet, if a movie was made that followed the father-daughter story line, which is literally mapped out in the opening pages of the book, it would be a harrowing horror tale with mordant dark humor… I could see the Coen brothers doing that film version.

lycan librarian - July 27, 2010

I can see you writing the screenplay because you have so much passion for this work. When I thought of this becomig a movie, I did envision it being told chronologically.

2. Odzer - August 6, 2010

Hi,
Thanks for commenting on my blog post. I have just landed on your blog and it seems great! I would really love to go through the reviews…which i will. Thanks once again : )

Yoshay

lycan librarian - August 7, 2010

It looks like you discuss some very interesting books. I am always looking for new ones — especially those I may not have heard about before, so I’ll be studying your blog, too. Happy reading!


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