From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Ever since she was a teenager, performance artist and author Carlip (Queen of the Oddballs: And Other True Stories from a Life Unaccording to Plan
) has been collecting strangers' lost shopping lists and imaging the lives and people behind them. With the help of expertly applied makeup and outlandish costumes, Carlip has turned herself into the men and women that she imagined. From a wife-seeking, Fu Manchu–mustached redneck to an octogenarian stand-up comic, a washed-up lesbian rock star to a 20-something goth boy, Carlip takes inspiration from both the mundane—potatoes—and the disturbing—mousetraps, cheese, mouse. The 26 vivid photographic portraits and accompanying narratives display the author's humor, grace and a brilliantly creative eye. Carlip's alter egos are larger than life and twice as entertaining. Fans of Sloane Tanen's Bitter with Baggage Seeks Same
should flock to this hilarious, delightful, unique achievement. (Mar.)
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Carlip, the self-described “queen of the oddballs” (from the title of her acclaimed memoir), draws on her love of story, passion for performance and transformation, eye for found art, and gift for comedic and empathic improvisation in a unique portrait gallery. A populist Cindy Sherman, an American Tracey Ullman, a female Eddie Murphy, and a disciple of Lily Tomlin, Carlip used her quirky collection of discarded shopping lists as inspiration for 26 characters, assuming the identity of men and women shoppers of various ages, backgrounds, and preoccupations. Carlip poses with great verve in brightly colored store aisles as Kim, a leathery biker momma grasping a bottle of Jack Daniels, her shopping list a tattered piece of red paper with “Jimmy Den” and “soda” crossed off and “Liqor” written assertively four times. Then there’s supermom June and her meticulously typed list for her Tourette’s-afflicted son’s birthday party; flannel-shirt-wearing, Fu Manchued Woody; tattooed punk pinup Heather; and lonely healthy-eater Fran. Each of Carlip’s ingeniously composed, funny, and insightful vignettes is a microcosm of struggle and hope. --Donna Seaman