I've always been fascinated by Lynda Barry. As a teenager I would read Sassy magazine and it seems as if she was mentioned in almost every issue. The cool girls read Lynda Barry. I wasn't cool. (Big shocker, huh?) I read Sweet Valley High and V.C. Andrews books.
Last year I read my first Lynda Barry book, Cruddy. It was very dark and incredibly emotional. I don't think I ever reviewed it here because once I finished it, I didn't want to discuss it anymore. I thought it was a great, yet horrific and violent piece of literature. Words and images of that nature tend to stick with me in a way I don't enjoy so I did my best to put it behind me.
Anyway, ever since then I've been on the lookout for some lighter Barry. Last time I was at the library I nearly did a little happy dance in between the stacks when I saw One Hundred Demons. The title of the book comes from a painting exercise of the same name and each of the seventeen sections in the book deal with a specific 'demon'.
The first demon is called "Head Lice and My Worst Boyfriend" and is rumoured to be about Ira Glass of public radio fame. When, while working as a volunteer teacher, Lynda catches head lice, she's faced with having to go home and tell her snobby, intellectual boyfriend that he probably has lice too. Needless to say the relationship didn't last and there are numerous reasons why she equates him with a louse.
A lot of the stories deal with childhood and growing up. One that struck me as particularly poignant was "Magic." Lynda talks about her best friend who was two years younger than she was. This didn't matter until she turned 13 and then there was just no way they could be friends because it was "weird and lame." The adult Lynda says, "I did this 31 years ago but my stomach still knots up when I think of it."
I can relate. I can think of at least three friends that I ditched in the early years of high school. The reasons why really aren't important. Maybe they had an annoying laugh or they smelled like Cool Ranch Doritos. Whatever the reason, the deserved better treatment. They didn't deserve to be dumped by me just because I wanted to try to revamp my image.
Actually, I can relate to quite a few of the demons mentioned in the book. Even if I don't feel a direct connection to one, I can easily put myself in the story. Lynda Barry doesn't sugarcoat anything, the people she draws aren't pretty, and she's really good at being brutally honest.
As a rule, I try to not purchase many graphic novels or comic books. They get read quickly and then sit on the bookshelf collecting dust. But I can totally see myself buying this book in the future when money is less of an issue. Or maybe I'll just do another happy dance in the middle of the library.