I guess I'd seen it about a million times and finally bought it after reading Lynda Barry's other book about writing called What it is.
(Apropos of nothing I need to also make mention of Crispin Glover's film project called What is it)
Anyway, Cruddy was fantastic. One of the best books I ever read. It has a roadtrip, surreal passages, magical realism, teenagers acting like teenagers, and really great sensitive, smart writing.
I had picked up her other book What it is shortly before. I liked it but I couldn't really understand it as a book about writing. I realized later that what she's getting at is more a meditation on creativity. It got me thinking about how good it is to have a creative outlet and how that can really sustain a person through all manner of discomforts and hardships. She obviously has a real affinity for children and kids, talks about how her own writing and drawing created an alternate headspace to be in.
She articulates well that sort of absent minded absorption you can achieve through doing something creative, and how losing track of time and doing something (i was going to say "productive", but "creative" really is a more appropriate word) can recharge you. It made me think about how sometimes when I surf the web or online window shop or read celebrity gossip, you're supposed to find it relaxing but it can really drain you psychically. Lynda Barry seems to think you should get rid of your TV, or at least recognize it as a narcotic of sorts. You lose time watching TV and surfing the web too, but it doesn't recharge you, it can do the opposite. Don't get me wrong, I love watching certain shows and I love crappy movies. But I definitely have fallen prey to the glazed eyes, prone on the sofa type of watching too.....
She doesn't even really get into the writing exercises until about 1/2-2/3 of the way in. The book is pretty, it's all collages and drawings by her.
She talks a lot about memories and images. How you can escape into books and drawing and writing etc. I think anyone who loves reading and loves books can relate to many of the things she said. I do remember lying in my bed in my suburban home as a teenager and specifically reading the Edie Sedgewick oral history biography, and just being so completely absorbed and fascinated that this world even existed somewhere. And losing myself in a book is still such a pleasure, the reason I keep reading all the time is for that feeling.
There's a fantastic quote in it:
We don't create a fanasy world to escape reality, we create it to be able to stay.
I wasn't a huge Marlys fan, nor did I really like Ernie's Pook Comeek that much. I just loved Cruddy though. Highly recommend.