Top positive review
31 people found this helpful
on April 23, 2005
I had never heard of Lynda Barry before getting a tip about this book from another Amazon reader. For some reason I was expecting something along the lines of Phoebe Gloeckner's "Diary of a Teenage Girl"...graphic novel about girl coming of age in the 70's, etc.
But this is no memoir--at least, I hope not! It isn't really even a graphic novel in the traditional sense; Barry's crude paintings (done with charcoal? paint? hard to tell) interspersed throughout the narrative evoke the dark and ugly mood of the book perfectly, but they're miles away from comic-book realism.
This is a wildly-imaginative, horrifying book about Roberta Rohbeson, the story itself made even more surreal by the copious amounts of drugs and alcohol she as the narrator consumes, both as an 11 and 16 year old.
Roberta is tormented and abused at the hands of her nomadic father, who takes her on a roadtrip littered with corpses and who calls her Clyde and introduces her as a mute mongoloid. This is a girl who considers herself so ugly as a result of his violence, she becomes uncomfortable when people even glance her way. She's pitiable in the most obvious sense, but she's also smart and tough--and carries a knife named "Little Debbie" to protect her from the evil she (rightly) expects to encounter at every turn.
There's shenanigans and drug-and-alcohol induced exploits, of course, which drew comparisons to "Fear and Loathing" on the jacket cover, if I remember correctly. But it's not a one-trick pony, as Barry's character development skills are stunning. There's Roberta herself, her dim-witted and hysterical sidekick Vicky Talluso, the Father (referred to only as such), an erstwhile druggie hookup named Turtle, the flabby abusive hillbilly bartender Pammy, and many more. I can't make this stuff up, but Lynda Barry can.
Read it!!! Read it in the dark before you fall asleep. Read it when you're feeling sad. Read it in the most incongruous of settings--in the park, at the beach, on a sunny day. Despite its ugliness, it will make you smile.