This is a placeholder for the review I will write after I talk about this with my book club (i.e. Celia), augmented with some quotations.
When a book starts out with this much flava, you know you're in for something:
"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. Once upon a cruddy time behind cruddy Black Cat Lumber on a very cruddy mud road which bubbles up very weird smells that evil genie themselves up through the cruddy dark rain and into the yellow lit-up window of the cruddy top bedroom of a cruddy rental house where a cruddy girl is sitting on a cruddy bed across from her cruddy sister who I WILL KILL IF YOU TOUCH THIS, JULIE, AND IF YOU DO I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL KILL YOU, NO MERCY, NO TAKE-BACKS PRIVATE PROPERTY, THIS MEANS YOU, JULIE YOU! The cruddy girl named Roberta was writing the cruddy book of her cruddy life and the name of the book was called Cruddy." p.3
I knew Lynda Barry as an artist, drawer of comics. The illustrations in this book are evocative and mood-setting, but I want you to know that she also has a way with language.
"This story was tumbling out of my mouth as we walked to the Washeteria.It tumbled out in broken chunks and pieces. The Turtle was listening. Vicky wasn't. She was talking at the same time and her words sounded like scribbles." p.60
"Words sounded like scribbles," doesn't that kill you?
"The car with the human teeth marks in the dashboard rolled away down the gravel road." p.131
That sentence kind of sums up the whole story. Hard things impacted improbably by other hard things, that get out of control, probably to do more damage.
This one says the same thing about the danger and chaos in the characters' lives:
"It was still night but all the shows were over and on the screen was the hissing no-picture of a billion insane bees." p.139
There are more insanely powerful and crazy quotes, and I want to discuss whether this is a YA novel or not, but I guess I'll stop now because I don't want to blow it before our book club meeting and also because I just want to go home now.