Saturday, January 23, 2010

Skinless and Cruddy - A Review

How we were surprised and excited when ingenious bilingual Heidelbergian writer, translator, art critic and theorist Nina Dentata finally replied to one of our many letters. Our chief executive Tony Abstract had been courageous, yes fearless enough to ask her for contributions to FUN CLUB, he had even sent her a detailed list of books, comics and tunes that he would love to have reviewed. Most of the works he listed would still be unknown to him if it weren't for the profound knowledge and peculiar taste of Nina Dentata, well-established connoisseur of the anglophone underground. On top of his list were Diane DiMassa's adorable superhero comics (with a particular mention of the behated as well as beloved "skinless and genderless man") as well as Lynda Barry's fascinating novel "Cruddy". We were speechless when we saw that Nina Dentata had answered two of our prayers at the same time and say thank you kind...

"If one of my favorite fellas in the world, a guy called The Skinless and Genderless Man, were to name his least favorite book, it would be Cruddy by Lynda Barry. Mind you, Skinless isn’t the brightest star in the universe. He’s more of a lovable but very dumb brother. What he wouldn’t like at all is all the gender-bending going on in the novel. “What’s all this Clyde-business about?”, he’d ask, eyes wide open as always. Skinless lacks in various departments of anatomy, not just skin and sexual organs; his eyelids and sockets are also missing. I’m not even sure if he has an actual skull. He just has a head. He’d definitely like the shootin’ and the swearin’. Most of the shootin’ and swearin’ in the book comes from the Father. The Father’s the kind of guy who likes to lay down the law to little Clyde, who is also and actually (maybe) Roberta. Roberta Rohbeson makes a very cruddy effort of telling the very fucked-up tale of her life, maps detailing her cruddy journey through a cruddy existence - which of course ends in her suicide - and including awesome illustrations so as not to leave you in doubt about the very cruddiness of things. Skinless isn’t into painting too much unless it involves his skinless heterosexual girlfriend undressed and draped on a chaise longue much like Kate Winslet in “Titanic”. Therefore he might get downright pissed at the quality of the images in Cruddy. “That shit is ugly”, he’d be likely to comment and put the book down. (There’s no way of knowing why he may have picked it up in the first place.) Skinless isn’t one to dig any deeper than he absolutely has to into questions such as “But when the thing that is scaring you is already Jesus, who are you supposed to pray to?”. There are moments of melancholy beauty in Cruddy that Skinless would simply not be aware of, even if you slapped them in his lipless face. Skinless isn’t only skinless to slip racial categorizing, he’s bereft of sentiment (or put in a more obvious manner: nothing gets under his skin because he has none). One could assume that he might get the broader message conveyed in the novel, but, alas, in vain. The message is “Truth plus Magical Love equals Freedom” and the Skinless and Genderless Man is a bonehead who will never get it but he’s a cuddly guy nonetheless. And if YOU read Cruddy AND wrap your head or your heart around it, you’re IN."