by Lynda Barry
I’ve had this book for awhile, but I put off reading it because I was leery of the emotional reaction I suspected it would provoke. This might make me kind of chicken, but I don’t really think so. If I was really chicken, this book would still be on my unread shelf (ok, unread bookcase) and I wouldn’t tell you it made me cry.
Not that it is a weepfest. But really, childhood and adolescence is brutal and Barry remembers what it was like. She’s funny and painfully honest and she draws interesting monkeys and octopus-like critters as well as angry mothers. The pen and ink and colors are vibrant without being in-your-face or cartoony in a bad way, and I really like the collage elements occasionally mixed in. Imagine pulling some treasure out of the kitchen junk drawer of from your childhood: her work feels like that.
Barry wants everyone to experience the freedom that can come from creating. The last few pages of the book are instructions on how to draw your own demon. (I haven’t done this yet, but I haven’t dismissed the idea, either.) She sees, from her current vantage point, that “the nine-year-old version of me who made up all those ‘classified stories’ would think that this one has a very happy ending.” This, in a panel where adolescent her, reading the lost and found classifieds, sees “Lost. Somewhere around puberty. Ability to make up stories. Happiness depends on it. Please write.”
Highly recommended, especially if the idea of reading it makes you nervous.