I am a big fan of Linda Barry's Ernie Pook strip. A big fan. So it was with some trepidation that I picked up a copy of Cruddy, one of her novels. It's about a cruddy family in a cruddy house of the side of a cruddy hill. Linda Barry has not lost her feel for genuine dialogue, nor has the crossover into more mainstream fiction stymied her imagination.

Think of Cruddy as hardcore Ernie Pook. If Ernie Pook did drugs, had criminal tendencies and a sociopathic father.

I was scared to read it, scared it would taint the comic strip, let me down. It didn't. Reading it was interesting from a stylistic point of view, but it was also a fun read. I was engaged in the plot in a way I just don't get that often anymore. I wanted to know. And I wasn't disappointed.

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