Cruddy by Lynda Barry
A Novel

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Synopsis

On a September night in 1971, a few days after getting busted for dropping two of the 127 hits of acid found in a friend's shoe, a sixteen-year-old who is grounded for a year curls up in the corner of her ratty bedroom, picks up a pen, and begins to write.
Once upon a cruddy time on a cruddy street on the side of a cruddy hill in the cruddiest part of a crudded-out town in a cruddy state, country, world, solar system, universe. The cruddy girl named Roberta was writing the cruddy book of her cruddy life and the name of the book was called Cruddy.
Now the truth can finally be revealed about the mysterious day long ago when the authorities found a child, calmly walking in the boiling desert, covered with blood. She could not give the authorities any information about why she was the only survivor and everyone else was lying around in hacked-up pieces.

Roberta Rohbeson, 1971. Her overblown, drug-induced teenage rant against a world bounded by "the cruddy top bedroom of a cruddy rental house on a very cruddy mud road behind cruddy Black Cat Lumber" soon becomes a detailed account of another story. It is a story about which Roberta has kept silent for five years, until, under the influence of a pale hippie called the Turtle and a drug called Creeper, her tale giddily unspools...
Roberta Rohbeson, 1967. The world of Roberta, age eleven, is terrifyingly unbounded, a one-way cross-country road trip fueled by revenge and by greed, a violent, hallucinatory, sometimes funny, more often horrific year of killings, betrayals, arson, and a sinister set of butcher knives, each with its own name.
Welcome to Cruddy, Lynda Barry's masterful tale of the two intertwined narratives set five years -- an eternity -- apart, which form the backbone of Roberta's life. Cruddy is a wild ride indeed, a fairy tale-cum-low-budget horror movie populated by a cast of characters that will remain vivid in the reader's mind long after the final page: Roberta's father, a dangerous alcoholic and out-of-work meat cutter in search of his swindled inheritance; the frightening owners of the Knocking Hammer Bar and sometime slaughterhouse; and two charming but quite mad escapees from the Barbara V. Herrmann Home for Adolescent Rest. Written with a teenager's eye for freakish detail and a nervous ability to make the most horrible scenes seem hilarious, Roberta's two stories -- part Easy Rider and part bipolar Wizard of Oz -- painfully but inevitably converge in a surprising denouement in a nightmarish Dreamland in the Nevada desert.
By turns terrifying, darkly funny, and resonant with humanity, propelled by all the narrative power of a superior thriller and burnished by the author's pitch-perfect ear for dialogue, Cruddy is a stunning achievement.
 

About Lynda Barry

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Lynda Barry is the creator of the nationally syndicated "Ernie Pook's Comeek" comic strip and the author of the novel and play "The Good Times Are Killing Me, " and was a commentator for National Public Radio. She lives in Evanston, Illinois.
 
Published February 21, 2001 by Simon & Schuster. 320 pages
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Cruddy

Kirkus Reviews

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The only thing this gritty debut novel shares with Barry's work as a narrative cartoonist is its point of view: told by a 16- year-old girl, the bloody and violent story is tougher and uglier than any of the artist's previous work.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Cruddy: A Novel

AV Club

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Lynda Barry is best known for her eclectic weekly comic strip Ernie Pook, which mixes mundane, shocking, and bizarre ruminations on growing...

Mar 29 2002 | Read Full Review of Cruddy: A Novel

Spinetingler Magazine

The girl is Roberta Rohbeson, and her rant against a world bounded by “the cruddy top bedroom of a cruddy rental house on a very cruddy mud road” soon becomes a detailed account of another story, one that she has kept silent since she was eleven.

Sep 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Cruddy: A Novel

Austin Chronicle

Cruddy: An Illustrated Novelby Lynda Barry.

Sep 03 1999 | Read Full Review of Cruddy: A Novel

CNN.com

... Book uncovers the trivial and the violent. 'Cruddy' by Lynda Barry. Simon &
Schuster. Review by By Heidi Bell www.salon.com. January 17 ...

Jan 17 2000 | Read Full Review of Cruddy: A Novel

Reader Rating for Cruddy
87%

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