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Flaming Iguanas: An Illustrated All-Girl Road Novel Thing (Mad Dog Rodriguez Trilogy) Hardcover – June 13, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Judy McGuire Paper A potty mouth with a heart of gold.

Natasha Stovall The Village Voice Lopez catches fire to three-chord punk rock, splattering her psychic guts all over the page, leaving nothing to the imagination.

Patricia Holt San Francisco Chronicle Lopez gives Tomato an outlaw integrity that Thelma and Louise only hinted at. Tomato's quest for identity and freedom actually becomes our own.

Karen Helfrich Lambda Book Report There's a sizable, rebelliously tasteless portion of our reading public who will soon want to make Lopez their cartoonist pillow queen.

James S. Howard The Fresno Bee It's a fun, fast, and fabulous first novel.

Feminist Bookstore News Not for the faint of heart....Racy, raunchy, riotously funny, and hilariously incisive. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Erika Lopez lives a much too happy life in San Francisco being the sidekick to her two best friends, Mark and Mary. They all live on the same block. They walk big, leaky dogs and forget to whisper when they talk about other people's butts. Previously she launched Lap Dancing for Mommy into the world and her new book is They Call Me Mad Dog!: A Story for Bitter, Lonely People, but that won't be all. She's got plans. Big plans for big girls in little clothes. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Mad Dog Rodriguez Trilogy
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (June 13, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684837226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684837222
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 7.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #599,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

UDATED SPRING 2013:

(To follow the screaming end of Erika Lopez's art career, go to her Cartoon Log, http://clog.ErikaLopez.com [now deleted for others' anonymity/privacy] and signed regular/special editions of books are available directly from her "Monster Girl Media" or "Erika Lopez" sites.)

ERIKA LOPEZ was momentarily back, and was totally ready to take back her place at the head of the rickety kids' table until the consequences of this newer, short-term, insane capitalism set in and rendered her bust again. Erika was dancing like a crazy, dying monkey for people who'd show up at readings at the few remaining book stores in business to say how much they loved her work, but then leave and go home to buy the same few USED books right here online, making the business of writing any book seem ABSURDLY insane and more brutally costly than she'd ever imagined...

So in 2010, she published what would become her final set of books, "THE GIRL MUST DIE" with a matching book of "THE GIRL MUST DIE POSTCARDS" through their new publishing company, Monster Girl Media, which is now bust and getting ready to shred the remainder of the 3,000 books.

She quit trying to make art for others, and has quit in order to become art for herself in private, analogue time. She's stopped worrying about others to become her own superhero: Erika quit the biz and lost 100 pounds, can now bench press 125 pounds, and wears pink anything because she was always trying to be too cool to be the kind of girl who wears pink.

(Besides, she lived her life constantly SHOWING a little pink.)

Now that she's not worried about seeming weak as her own superhero, she loves pink things shamelessly.

And forget trying to inspire or save the world: now that she's a superhero with big breasts and the prerequisite little waist, she needs to inspire HERSELF to get a crappy retail job like everyone else in America now (if you're lucky).

The rest of us can't kick back and lounge back in the vinyl American Dream. We're fighting to not be crushed by the impending American Nightmare.

But don't cry for Erika. She's tasted the sugar of her own tears and is fine with how things turned out. She didn't know that when she finished "The Girl Must Die," she'd only BEGUN to die. There was a whole lot more loud, screaming, dramatic, silent, fetal-position dying--inside and outside her---to be doing.

This book re-wrote HER and she's still killing off herself to see what's under the bullshxt of fitting in America.


"...And I, Erika Lopez, am finally coming fully alive now that I've 'committed a living suicide' by killing off and letting die what needed to die so that I may burn to life and become the Woman I've always dreamt of becoming. I'd already become The Woman of My Dreams, but never dreamt I'd become my own Superhero, too. Daaaaamn.

"That's bigger than capitalism or America. You can't buy this, or book a tour for this kind of thing. You can have the illusions and fantasies. It's all the slamming sugar rush of high fructose corn syrup. I want to rip into the meat and tendons and eviscera of life.

"All I can hope to do is ride the bull til the buzzer goes off. And I love how I keep coming through for MYSELF.

"Thank you and good luck in your own Beautiful Death as you struggle to truly LIVE for a change. We really do need you and all that you know. Those of you who've lived under rocks have too many tales to tell, gifts to leave behind before it's time for you to go."

X


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(Prior biography from www.ErikaLopez.com ...)

After poor--but happy--frolicking years of art school in Philadelphia at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (and stints at Moore College of Art and The University of the Arts), Erika was surprised to find herself out on the streets with a lot of attitude and an inability to hold down a job. So after a couple of crappy jobs, bad room mates, and a couple of days in jail, Erika was losing the dream of being a rich and famous artist strung out on heroin supplied by NYC gallery dealers.

Erika quickly adjusted her ambitions and aimed to become a famous cartoonist for porn magazines. That didn't go so well either. But her cartoons kept getting published in San Francisco and so she moved there and ended up living with a Gothic meth lap dancer and a bleach-blonde Eskimo call girl from Canada.

Soon after getting her own apartment with no job in sight, Lopez got a couple of grants she'd--half-jokingly, but desperately-- applied for during one of her previous "fired" periods back in Philadelphia: She was a Pew discipline winner a couple of times, but the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts each gave her $2500 to write. Write? Write what?

So following through on her own dare and having nothing left to lose, she learned to ride a crappy motorcycle in a week, and rode cross country so she could at least write about doing something. When she made it safely home, she penned her way through her first novel, "Flaming Iguanas," sprinkling it with enough illustrations to distract the reader from the writing.

It worked. It sold. Her editor at Simon & Schuster offered her more money to write again and again, and so she wrote and wrote until she realized she was getting weird and creepy after so much time alone. The future seemed so bright for young Erika, she thought she'd have a Victorian house in San Francisco within an hour. But with a shrinking economy and "creative differences" with her publisher, the jig was up. She unwisely shot herself in the foot at the beginning of what was to become a massive economic downturn. In no time at all it seemed she was going down in flames...

Again, Erika simply went with the flow. She embraced this challenge with a pinch on the cheek and a pat on the head, by gaining weight, wearing muumuus, listening to AM talk radio too loud, and calling herself "Grandma Lopez." She was going around calling people "toots", pinching their cheeks too hard, and giving everyone unsolicited advice as she limped on over to the welfare line.

Becoming a burden to the state and calling the welfare checks her "special mini art grants," she turned those salmon-colored notes into "Nothing Left but the Smell: A Republican on Welfare." As far as anyone knows, it's the first known Food Stamp Variety Show with lots of theatrical complaining, some papery cartoon moments, and tender, bitter singing. It's a show about being a sorely-mistaken, middle class pipsqueak ... one of those totally unsympathetic characters who grows up thinking all the civil and voting fights have already been fought so now she's free to sit back and buy lots of crap from mail order catalogues. Instead, she ends up in the welfare line so she can star in her own variety show about it later.

This started a new chapter in Erika's adventure, one that embraced a multi-media, rebellious, kick-ass "gang" approach to life. No one focus, but a broad view on that "what's next" question buried inside each and every one of us. This new and improved Erika had been travelling around the world, Oslo, Edinburg, London and Manchester, performing and inspiring other pipsqueaks all over the planet.

But that chapter ended with a quiet artistic beat down in an alley, and now Erika has quit art to BECOME art now that Rome is burning. Art in real life, analogue time, as opposed to photographed, distilled, edited, and holding its stomach online. She thinks the internet has become as boring as an old mall people used to go to.

You can have it. She wants to see eyes for a change. Reality. Not an endlessly curated, smarmy-resume, networking reality. That's not reality at all. Wait and see...

In the meantime, thank you to those who've supported us, fed us, nurtured us. And good luck to all! You're gonna need it.

La la la...

X

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
Recently, on my own book tour, I happened to ask a sales guy at Shaman Drum Books in Ann Arbor if he could help me. I was an English grad student, I said; I was trying to draw up a syllabus for a course I hoped to teach in a year or two, on the American Road Novel. I'd come up with a handful of obvious titles--ON THE ROAD, ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTAINANCE, LOLITA, TRAVELS WITH CHARLIE, even THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ. But all of them were by white guys, and I was looking for the rest of the picture. Was there, I asked him, a literary equivalent to "Thelma and Louise"? He handed me FLAMING IGUANAS. "Here," he said.
A woman on a motorcycle takes on America.
This is a great book. Erika, I am in love. It is an infectuous, cheerful, honest, ragingly sexy--but never prurient--book. It is very much within the tradition (Kerouac, Henry Miller, and several other sex-and-road dudes are mentioned explicitly, as sort-of precursors; Erica Jong's FEAR OF FLYING is a good point of comparison, too), but it also extends the tradition, and gloriously so. At moments Lopez makes the confessional-thing look so effortless you're tempted to try it yourself, but such ruthless self-exposure, no matter how fictionalized, is its own stringent discipline.
This is a soaring, liberating read. Week 12 on the twelve-week American Road Novel syllabus, without a doubt. Some undergrads may be scandalized; WILL be scandalized. Too bad. Erika, I love you. I tell all my friends in the Princeton English Department about you. I am a one-man word-of-mouth machine, spreading the gospel. You are too much. Exuberance is beauty. Don't stop!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I was sitting, well actually squatting, in the bookstore and reading the first few pages of the book when I started laughing like a nut... Well people stared, so naturally I purchased it to avoid making a scene, and what a wise purchase it was. It's crazy, it's funny, it's so much more readable than "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". I felt empowered, I feel inspired, gosh darn I want a motorcycle gang too, and maybe someday I'll cross Canada and write a novel comparable to this.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Vivek Tejuja on May 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
Erika Lopez...The name didn't strike a bell at all when one of my friends' bought it up at a recent off-line book club discussion. Then I was intrigued to know more about this author and her works. So I went ahead and puchased "Flaming Iguanas" and before I knew I was in for a rocking roller-coaster ride across US of A.
This book is about Tomato Rodriguez - who takes a cross-country bike trip on her own in search of may be something or maybe something not. Funny in bits and I laughed so hard that it made me cry...and then again there is a very subtle profoundity at play in this work .
On her journey to the road of revelation, Tomato has given me so many insights which are unbelievably hard to relate to but they work nevertheless. A great book - both as a comfy read and at the same time sneaking on you and scandalizing in all so many ways!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lauren Scaravelli on May 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book kicks butt.
It so funny in parts I laughed outloud. All I kept thinking was how true it all was, I mean if you decided tomorrow that you wanted to be tough and drive across the country on a motot bike, you would fall down a lot, you would be really scared when big giant trucks drove by in an attempt to splatter you on the road, and, you might even sing made up folk songs outloud in your helmet to try and keep yourself calm. Hil freekin larious, is what I think this book is. The writing is is a bit like having a conversation with someone super funny but slightly unstable. It is in your face graphic and offers no sugar coating of thoughts and feelings. There is no filter for the verbal rantings and that is what makes it great.
You will be entertained by this book. It was a very pleasent surprise. Plus the packageing is cool, you cannot go wrong. I want to go out and buy several copies and send them to all my girlfriends.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mark Butler on September 7, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book based on the 11 pages available online from Amazon. Its interesting, funny in a wierd sort of way and sounded intriguing. I was looking for a kind of journey description with the funny wierd things that happen along the way.
The book started that way, with her description of how she decided to become a biker gang of one called the Flaming Iguanas and the difficulties of getting someone to go with her and why she went. I found it tedious to delve into her broken past all the time though.
FInally she got out on the road and I expected the pace to pick up a bit, but it didn't, the road stuff takes up about 5% of the book, the rest is a stream of consciousness about everything and anything. Some of its good but I found myself getting impatient after sections like 5 pages of what songs she sang into her helmet (and why).
So if your looking for a road-bike book this probably isn't the one for you, if your looking for a wild ride following a completely mixed up woman with a rough past and some very funny writing then it may be just the ticket for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Erin K. Darling on March 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I'll tell you up front - I'm generally biased toward books about motorcycles, as an avid rider myself. But I have to say, _Flaming Iguanas_ is just outstanding. Some of it reads like free association straight from Lopez's brain, which I really got into, along with the wacky-but-usually-related-but-sometimes-not illustrations. The story is a winner, as our heroines trek around on their bikes, but it's the delving into Tomato's psyche that I enjoyed most. Well, that and the one-liners that made me laugh out loud.
Overall, just a phenomenal book, and I highly recommend it to anyone, even though people who don't know the exhilaration of riding on two wheels.
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