cover image The Greatest of Marlys

The Greatest of Marlys

Lynda Barry. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 (248p) ISBN 978-1-77046-264-9

Barry is one of American literature’s great chroniclers of childhood. Her comic strips, drawn in disarmingly and deceptively childlike lines, distill the essence of fried bologna sandwiches and stray dogs, mysterious teenage bedrooms, and kickball at dusk. This luminous hardcover collection centers on Barry’s magnum opus, Marlys, a bright, bossy, awkward grade-schooler cloaked in freckles and bravado. Marlys, her sensitive little brother, Freddy, and their cousins Arna and Arnold navigate a world of angry mothers, absent fathers, schoolyard politics, and trailer park drama, ping-ponging between comedy and tragedy. Some strips are heartbreakingly beautiful, others simply heartbreaking. But most are funny, as the kids present on diverse topics as “How to Groove on Life,” “Fumes of Regret,” and “Don’t Freak It’s Only Nature” (“If you don’t like extra pink dangles of flesh, don’t go staring at the star-nosed mole”). This book will bring groovy love into your life. Pinky swear. (Aug.)