Dec 18, 2018 in Book Review

Cruddy Book Review


The given paper is an analysis essay, aimed at answering the questions pertaining to events in Cruddy, a novel authored by Lynda Barry that outlines the events surrounding Roberta’s conducts throughout the story. Roberta, the storyteller, is a teenager contemplating to embark on a suicidal path. The questions to be answered concern the ways drugs affected the storytelling, how drugs are mirrored in Clyde’s story, and how unreliable drugs make the narrator. 

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The narrative commences with Roberta, stating that she is committing a suicide at the end of the novel, and the blames it on drugs, and not her. However, she cannot claim drugs have no impact on her anticipation, since drugs are a big part of the landscape of the narrative. The event of the story is based on drugs because Roberta has kept quiet for long till she gets intoxicated. “Her exaggerated, drug-induced teenage rage against a universe surrounded by the cruddy top bedroom of a cruddy rental house on a very cruddy mud road behind cruddy Black Cat Lumber” (Barry, 2001, p. 3), soon turns into a detailed explanation of another narrative. It is a narrative about which she has kept secret for five years, until influence of a light hippie, referred to as the Turtle, and a drug known as Creeper, playfully unspools her tale. It is a revelation that drugs influence the story. Another fact that can be associated with drug influence is that the characters are given positions instead of names. Referring to the father as ‘Suzy Homemaker’, and giving knives more personality and character than some of the individuals, obviously illustrates it. In addition, names such as ‘Sheila’ and ‘Little Debbie’ are used figuratively (Barry, 2001). The words themselves were uneven and very blunt and direct in most passages. Nonetheless, there were also lengthy, rambling passages. The words and actions are associated with drugs effects, and it is another indication that drug influenced storytelling. Furthermore, hallucinations associated with drugs’ effects are evident throughout the story. In general, the narrative recounts the events in Roberta’s life story; an ill-fated and drug-fueled adventure that bonds her with a cast of likewise marginalized teenagers.

Clyde’s Story

Clyde’s story concerns Roberta’s experiences when she was eleven. Having a drug addict father and drug-related events mirrored her experiences. At this age, Roberta revisited the most traumatic time of her life, the period she spent her time as “Clyde”, rambling along after her psychotic parent (father) on a crime spree (Barry, 2001). Her father is apparently a sociopath.  He gives his 11-year old daughter booze and cigarettes and needs her to be his partner in crime in many harrowing circumstances during his murder spree. Expecting to accede to his father’s business, Ray Rohbeson (her father) got nothing when the old man killed himself and gave possessions to his debtors. However, Ray was determined to acquire what is his, and young Roberta sees a number of horrible killings during this period. Posturing as Ray’s son “Clyde,” Roberta fakes dumbness both to father’s urging. The father is a thieving, lying, smooth-talker, who trains his daughter how to take drugs, use slaughter knives, and dull the ache with flat tots of Old Skull Popper. The effects of this upbringing is seen when she narrates the story. By narrating the tale of Roberta-as-Clyde, the novel may provide teenagers an opportunity to reflect on what might be consequences of nonconformist behavior, and boost their empathy. The reader contemplation for Roberta’s fleeing to find a genuine family, a dependence adult, someone who will cherish her unreservedly. The only possible difficulty is that the person has to trust Roberta, and not be so besieged by disbelief that all her diverse and dreadful experiences could occur to one individual. Drug is seen as the main influence in Clyde’s story, since from her early age of 11, she’s exposed to drugs.

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The drug effects and horrible life experience that narrator encounters make her very unreliable. It is evident, as the reader wishes she flee from the current life; however, she cannot, and only believes suicide is the only way to escape. Drug is a big factor to her unreliability; though, it is not the only factor; lack of love, indecent family and exposure has also influenced her conduct. She has gone through tough life experience and has a revengeful heart. The events are horrific, being that the narrator who is at the center of the book’s events, creates a sense of disconnect. No one can trust that after this horrific period she could still be trustworthy. 

The unreliability of narrator makes it hard for a reader to relate or trust her. It could be argued that she had no control over what happened; however, effects of the events within the story make it relate with narrator. The importance of accuracy in Cruddy is essential in illustrating the message. Cruddy is a cruel story in a horrible environment, and the accuracy is revealed, since the images it paints are awful and seriously haunting. 

Drugs have a big influence on the story since most of the incidents can be attributed to effects of intoxication. Clyde’s story is influence by drugs effects and the narrator is very unreliable.

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