La fille du boucher Heather Hiestand




La fille du boucher  by  Heather Hiestand

La fille du boucher by Heather Hiestand
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Lynda Barrys illustrated novel Cruddy has not one but three equally alarming openings. The first is a suicide note: Dear Anyone Who Finds This, Do not blame the drugs. The next is a description of the lurid crucifix that hangs over the narrators bed: Some nights looking at him scares me so bad I can hardly move and I start doing a prayer for protection. But when the thing that is scaring you is already Jesus, who are you supposed to pray to?

The third is worthy of a nightmare fairytale, beginning 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... Shes not exaggerating. Its 1971, and 16-year-old Roberta Rohbeson lives in what looks very much like hell. Its five years after the Lucky Chief Motel Massacre, after which Roberta was found wandering the desert, covered with blood and clutching her dog, Cookie, who suffers from incurable skin problems.

Even now, Roberta still wont talk about what happened. She lives with her mother and sister on the aforementioned cruddy street, hides in the weeds during her lunch period, and eventually befriends some suicidal misfits like herself. The novel intercuts their chemically enhanced adventures with scenes from a gore-filled road trip taken five years before.

Hint No. 1: Robertas father used to run a slaughterhouse. Hint No. 2: The maps inside the front covers have keys that read Dead People We Left Behind and Places There Were Blood.Barry came to fame as a cartoonist, and though the humor in her strip Ernie Pooks Comeek is dark, nothing in it could prepare her fans for the sheer horror of Cruddy.

The novel is funny, sort of, as long as you think naming a knife Little Debbie is funny, or lines like A man who has been dead for a week in a hot trailer looks more like a man than you would first expect. Whats more, its compulsively, almost harrowingly, readable, written with the kind of velocity that makes you keep turning pages even when you dont want to. Despite the hallucinogenic quality of the violence around her, Roberta is never anything less than real, and her story will strike chords in anyone whose childhood was marked by ugliness and fear.

Cruddy may be a bad acid trip, but if you can stomach the ride, its a very good book. --Mary Park

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