Customer Reviews: Cruddy: An Illustrated Novel
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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.
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on December 22, 2000
Up in heaven, Flannery O'Connor wishes she could come back as Lynda Barry.
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on September 29, 1999
How does Lynda Barry do it? A Mass murderous father, knives with pet names, hallucinagens named "creeper", a fascination with the social lives of flies -- Certainly my childhood was nothing like this. So why does Roberta Rohbeson remind me so strongly of exactly what it was like to be an adolescent girl? I predict this will become a cult classic for girls who will hide it from their disapproving parents and read it under the sheets with a flashlight. For us grown up girls, it's one hell of a good read.
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on May 22, 2000
I have been a Lynda Barry fan ever since I was a wee tot, so perhaps I am a bit biased in this review... While reading Cruddy, I had a difficult time grasping that the book was fictional,despite all of the far out charatures and events that take place. After finishing the book, I found my mind wandering back into the book's harsh and bittersweet world,which to many, living off the backroads in many a cruddy town scattered across this country, is not far from reality. Furthermore, Lynda Barry specializes in illuminating characters who would otherwise languish, misunderstood and unaccounted for, particularly children and adolescents of alcoholic, abusive and psychotic parents(often refugees from wrecked marriages who resentfully regard their offspring as merely a nuisance contributing to the eternal drudgery of their lives) All of the elements in this book do(in some form) exist, in a spectrum of reality that most would prefer to be sheltered from, and Lynda Barry weaves them into a wonderful, mesmerizing, strangely comical albiet macabre piece of fiction. I would furthermore encourage anyone to pursue other works by Lynda Barry, such as her long running comic series Ernie Pook. Barry is a one of a kind master of her craft, be it in comic strip or literature form.
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on February 20, 2000
If Lynda Barry's first novel THE GOOD TIMES ARE KILLING ME broke your heart, CRUDDY will shred it. In GOOD TIMES, a young girl named Edna managed to survive divorce and racial discord....In CRUDDY, a young girl named Roberta somehow endures abandonment, abuse, sickness, ugly drug experiences, multiple murders and even amputation. Don't let that scare you away! This book is also overflowing with that trademark Barry wit as well as her brutally precise observations about humanity.
Sure - CRUDDY has a dark heart, but it is also very, very funny. The inner thoughts of bright, disenfranchised children have always been a rich source of material for Barry, and CRUDDY is a very generous serving of this priceless writing style. Feast on it and enjoy!
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on May 8, 2003
"Cruddy" is among the mightiest stories ever told, I kid you not. For laughing-and-crying-and-changing-your-outlook-of-humanity, it's right up there with "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Lord of the Flies".
It sucks you through the everyday squalor and horrors of childhood, and weaves in a cracking good killing-spree-road-trip story in the same breath without changing tone. There's sombreness and hilarity told in the same flawless voice, even when drunk or drug-addled, and there's heart-wrenchingness along with the gut-wrenchingness. We get Saggy Underwear Man and "the cheapest chintziest most pig-lipped tightwad skanked-out lardo king landlord of all time", and we also get Roberta wondering why she still loves The Father after all the abuse and murders and death-threats.
But I think above all "Cruddy" is an adventure story, and the world definitely needs more Girl Road Trip stories like this (this makes On The Road look like church-school). Every time I read it, I don't want it to be finished, because the world looks that much more different every time the story's over.
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on January 12, 2001
i could not put this book down. i visited a friend and as she was cleaning out her closets & organizing, she tossed me this book & said "i've been reading this, take a squizz & see if you like it" i hate reading. i can never find books that hold my attention at all. but as soon as i opened this book i was HOOKED. i read the first 5 chapters & then i had to go scrounge up the $12 to buy my own copy. i haven't ever purchased a book before (except for my kids) and i finished the book in one day...i can't even begin to explain how great it is. the way it's written is wonderfully confusing, as it travels back & forth in time...the way lynda describes the dirty dingy world of roberta, i felt like i was roberta myself. i felt her feelings, smelled what she smelled, saw what she saw...
by reading this book, i have now become a reader...i can't wait to read more books if they're going to make me go to another place like this one did.
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on August 27, 2014
I don't get it. How did this book I've never heard of a week ago become my favorite book? It's one of those books that, as a writer, makes you stop everything you're doing and take inventory. I can't write anymore after reading this. Not the way I wrote before. Darn you, Lynda Barry.

This book was a recommendation on someone else's Facebook post and it looked interesting so I started reading it and that's all it took. It's written with such a frenzy, such a fury. It's unabashed and unflinching and unyielding, like Little Debbie herself (a knife). It careens down one LSD trip after another, without once losing stride or momentum. It's written in such a masterfully detailed and honest language that I found myself lost in the prose a number of times.

Barry lays out the clues and foreshadowing like a demented, foul, drunken madman. She's written this beautiful work that's so harrowing, you'll find yourself putting it down out of sheer exhaustion. It baffles me how the writing can be so good and I'm only just hearing about a book that was published in 1999. You know how it should end, you just know it but Lynda Barry consistently surprises you with her audacity and brutality that puts Cormac McCarthy to shame. And it's written from the point of view of a 16 year old girl.

I can try and explain the plot but I feel like it will ruin the experience for others. But it's basically about a messed up girl in the 1970s relaying to newly found burned out buddies her tumultuous and violent past with a maniac of a father and a sordid cast reminiscent of Garth Ennis' Preacher or David Lapham's Stray Bullets. They could take lessons from Barry, by the way.

There are lines in this book that broke my heart and kept my brain reeling well into the night. Things look different now, the world around me has changed. A train horn is no longer a train horn. A dilapidated house on the side of the road is no longer a dilapidated house on the side of the road. That s***ty diner up the street? You guessed it, it's not that at all. It has a story. Everything has a story. Every little trashy, mundane, morally decrepit, deformed, limping, sun-scorched, pock-mark scarred detail has a story. None of it is pretty. Or is it?

If anyone needs me, I'll be re-reading this.
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on August 10, 2003
Although I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I do not believe it is possible to hate Cruddy as much as the disatisfied reader from Dayton, Ohio. I have encouraged many readers to read Cruddy, and have not once let them down.. until he read it. It is true, it was I who recommeded Cruddy to this shameful individual. But I suppose everything is fifty fifty in retrospect. And he, in an act of true revenge has posted a negative review online because he is hell bent on ruining the one thing that I love. Cruddy is amazing, and no exlove interest of mine should tell you differently. Read the book. True plus magical love equals freedom.
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on September 23, 2011
I'm a creative writing major at a very nice university, and this book is everything I dream about accomplishing with my life. I first read this masterpiece when a good friend's sister told me I should read it. She said I'd "really like it." What an understatement! It's been less than six months since I first read "Cruddy" and I'm reading it for the fourth time already. I just...I just don't want to read anything else at all. Simple as that. I can't fully express my love for "Cruddy" here. That would take us all day! But I HIGHLY recommend this book. Everything about it is so vivid, alive, and wonderfully fascinating. READ IT. You won't be sorry, I assure you.
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