One Hundred Demons - Lynda Barry
(referenced in a NY Times Review of Books article on graphic novels by Nick Hornby)
Although the title is a little misleading (Barry actually covers 17 demons), it's still a great book. The title refers to an exercise using a Chinese ink stick and brushes to draw out your own "demons" and put them on paper. Barry's range from head lice to reading the classifieds as a child (having no books) to getting high with a boy she liked in Chinatown. She refers to her work as "autobifictionalography;" it's not entirely clear which parts are true and which parts aren't, but they all seem true. Although I haven't shared many of her experiences, I could identify with some of her feelings: Barry was able to capture the sort of thoughts you have about adults as a teenager, the awkwardness of dancing, the discovery that your dream job is more like a nightmare. Her portrayal of herself is far from flattering, but I suppose that's the point of the exercise: these are your demons, after all, not your pleasant daydreams. Read this book, laugh at her ironic humor, but be prepared to cringe when you see yourself reflected, too.

Fed to jonathan's brain | February 27, 2003