Sunday, May 11, 2008

I Love Lynda Barry So Much, It Hurts a Little

When Barry created her "100 Poses of Marlys" series several years ago, I ordered one of the pieces, sending in my order with a fan letter so gushingly effuse I'd be embarrassed about it now if it weren't for the fact that I meant -- and still mean -- every word.

I still have the letter Barry wrote me back (enclosed with my signed original of "Graceful Pose Marlys"). It's a real letter, not one of those depressing form deals, and Barry is every bit as warm and awesome as you'd expect her to be. I can't even hold it against her that her novel, Cruddy, may have permanently damaged me.

So of course I read this recent interview with Barry in The New York Times from start to finish. It's a nice write-up, even if they did use the word "spunky" to describe Marlys. It's kind of too bad that she's become so reclusive (she and her husband live on a dairy farm, growing most of their own food and even chopping their own wood for fuel), but hey, whatever makes her happy.

On the plus side for the rest of us, she has a new book coming out, What It Is, which explains her method of making drawings and stories. I'll be grabbing a copy, but what I really wish is that I could attend Barry's workshop, "Writing the Unthinkable":
Taking the workshop, which Ms. Barry teaches several times a year, is a bit like witnessing an endurance-performance piece. Aided by her assistant, Betty Bong (in reality, Kelly Hogan, a torch singer who lives in Chicago), Ms. Barry sings, tells jokes, acts out characters and even dances a creditably sensual hula, all while keeping up an apparently extemporaneous patter on subjects like brain science, her early boy-craziness, her admiration for Jimmy Carter and the joys of menopause.
As Marlys would say, daaang.


GingerCat said...

I love Lynda Barry too! Thanks for the tip about the new book.

Anonymous said...

So that's what Kelly Hogan's been up to! Yay.

landismom said...

I confess, I just don't get Lynda Barry (or rather, I don't get Ernie Pook's Comeek). I read it all the time when I lived in the Bay Area, and I felt like I just missed getting it by 30 seconds or something, but I'm not there.

Tammy said...

Landismom, my gateway to Barry was her books, not the Comeek. The books have more of a narrative, and Barry has a real gift for creating poignancy without being at all cloying. The Freddie Stories made me cry, and It's So Magic has moments of honest-to-god beauty. I wish you lived nearby -- I'd loan you my copies!

Bybee said...

I've loved Lynda Barry since "Poodle With A Mohawk" back in the late 70s or early 80s. I think they ran some of her cartoons on the back page of Ms. Magazine. The best calendar I ever had in my life was a Lynda Barry calendar...hated to see that year end!

Deanna said...

I went to high school with Kelly Hogan! So there! (But I was a silly freshman and she was a cool senior when we shared a gifted English classroom together.)