cover image One! Hundred! Demons!

One! Hundred! Demons!

Lynda Barry. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-77046-277-9

Barry is up-front about the messy nature of memoir in this reissue of what is perhaps her masterpiece: “Please note: This is a work of autobifictionalography.” Drawn and painted with exuberant colors and florid emotions and inspired by a Zen painting exercise, the stories are taken mostly from her childhood and frequently play with the limits of memory. Awkwardness, anxiety, and isolation thrum throughout as Barry tangles with the conjured demons of her childhood, which include lousy relationships, an ever-critical mother, and risky experimentation at an early age. Barry’s raw, monster-haunted memories are often painful. But she tempers them with night-scented nostalgia and wry humor that can disarm readers just in time for the occasional gut-punch that’s all the rougher for being so straightforward: “When I was still little, bad things had gone on, things too awful to remember.” Barry’s visually jazzy panels are crowded with yearning to put together the scattered pieces of the past but also the knowledge that such a rescue mission may not be possible. This is a book with subtle power; readers may well end up in tears, but they might not be able to say why. (Apr.)