New in Books
A Mess of Everything: How Do You Feel About Turd Handling?
A Mess of Everything
by Miss Lasko-Gross
(Fantagraphics Books, $19.99)
As Lynda Barry fans know, awkward nerdy girls and comics go together like tornadoes and trailer parks. Miss Lasko-Gross's autobiographical comics are the best in the field since Barry and Phoebe Gloeckner put pen to paper. A Mess of Everything is a collection of short (mostly two to three pages) cartoons about high school. All of Lasko-Gross's cartoons are told mostly in shades of gray and brown, and they're brief, unsentimental anecdotes about shoplifting, pointless rebellion, and boys who fall in love too easily. A longer thread through the stories, about a friend's increasingly incompetent attempts to cover up an eating disorder, is handled with surprisingly little melodrama.
In one story in the center of the book, "The Turd," Lasko-Gross takes a shit in a Starbucks toilet. She panics when the toilet won't flush the turd down: "What if Henri is out there? What if one of his friends is out there and tells him?" She solves the problem by wrapping her hands in toilet paper, reaching in the bowl, pulling the turd out, and throwing it in the trash. Then, disgusted with herself ("WHAT HAVE I DONE?"), she runs away. If you're not comfortable with this level of actual and metaphorical shit-handling, Everything is not the book for you. Otherwise, you will have just met the best friend you wish you'd had back in high school.