What It Is

What It Is

by Lynda Barry


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781897299357
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Publication date: 05/13/2008
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 149,811
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Cartoonist, novelist, and playwright Lynda Barry is the creator behind the syndicated strip Ernie Pook's Comeek, featuring the incomparable Marlys and Freddy. Her books include One Hundred Demons and The Good Times Are Killing Me.

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What It Is 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lynda Barry's sharp wit, consummate literacy, and clever artistic eye shine through. She encourages everyone to do what they love to do and not to wallow in feelings of 'I-can't-do-this-because-I'm-just-not-good-enough-at-it.' Her pages--colorful and crowded with ideas--were created on yellow legal pads, yet you can see from the cover that she has filled them with life and lessons worth learning. We bought this book after hearing her speak/sing/perform at Haverford College last fall and we've loved the book ever since. She is amazing. Enjoy!
PhoebeReading on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Lynda Barry's latest is more of an artist journal/workbook than a comic book. There are only about thirty pages, maybe, of comics, which are very close to the style and autobiographical content of One Hundred Demons. The loose story of the comics, the surrounding pages, and the instruction manual for journaling that takes up the book's final third, surrounds the maturation of both Barry's creative process and her burgeoning childhood self-consciousness. In the workbook "section", she tries to dissuade us from becoming similarly blocked up and self-conscious. The exercises therein sound all right, though, perhaps, seem like they would be a little stronger for the writing process than the drawing process. My biggest beef with the book is in the pages that are neither comic book or workbook. Made up of collage and watercolor paintings, they have a magical, mysterious quality to them As objects of art, they're great (if a little muddy-looking in the reprinting), but after pages and pages of them, they sort of run together and lose their charm.
Narboink on LibraryThing 7 months ago
There is a wonderful simplicity at the center of the jumbled confusion that seems to characterize the aesthetics of this book. It was recommended to me by a friend who took a class with Ms. Barry: she said that "What It Is" pretty much tells you all you need to know to be a writer. I agree. While it probably won't necessarily make you a great writer, it does a wonderful job in contextualizing the creative process in a universal and highly accessibly way. Since finishing it some weeks ago, the precepts and insights of the book have only grown more pertinent. Good stuff.
chellerystick on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This volume takes Lynda Barry's fiction writing courses to the streets. The first half or so contains a memoir of her early artistic development, in the vivid style of her comics and graphic novels. What always amazes me about her work is how it makes me feel that she is a "kindred spirit," even though the time, the place, the social class, the culture, all of the gauntlets that children are made to run are entirely different. She is a sensitive, creative person in an insensitive place.The other part of the book consists of several exercises for improving your fiction writing. In particular, Barry seeks to elicit memories and details about things in your past to create descriptive prose of them. She also provides a number of different activities to help you to trigger stories and images. Although her focus is on fiction and memoir, these exercises will also be useful to the practice of the poetry workshop aphorism "Show, don't tell," and her scrapbook/sketchbook approach to the book will likely inspire a number of experiments that will not fit neatly into prose.Highly recommended.
kpickett on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I can remember loving to draw and write and imagine as a child. I can also remember a later time when I stopped doing those things; when there were the good drawers and writers and the rest of us just stopped trying. I can't remember what changed in between those times. What was the event that made me stop drawing and writing and making stories? Lynda Barry examines that question in her own life in What It Is. The first half of this beautiful graphic novel is a short autobiography of Barry's life as a writer/reader/artist/creator from early childhood past college. The second half of the book is advice and projects for young (or old) writers to spark their creativity. They key she says is to never let your pen stop moving. The last part of the book are more projects and ideas to use. This would be a great book to use in a creative writing class for students of any age. It makes me want to go home and begin to write. Everyone has something to express.
saltypepper on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This is not a comic, such as the Ernie Pook work. This is not a novel, like Cruddy. This isn't even "Autobifictionalography" as Barry has described One!Hundred!Demons! This is something else altogether.The first section of this book (the blue bordered pages) is loosely structured and dark and raises a lot of questions. I advise readers to stay with it. Why? Because what Barry is building to is the idea that it is okay not to know, that being in a state of uncertainty is important for creative work, that artists need to be able to sidestep the question of whether the work they're creating is good or not, at least while they're making it. The next section (the pinkish bordered pages) are a series of very specific detailed exercises designed to help one do that.
tiamatq on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I don't think I've ever sat down and read straight through a book of writing exercises. And, at a very basic level, that's what "What It Is" is. And I sat down and read through the whole thing, while taking time to digest it. It's about writing, drawing, images, memory, creativity, a magic cephalopod, and Lynda Barry's life. All done on a yellow legal pad of paper.This is a great book for anyone who's ever felt stuck writing or drawing (or just in the creative process). Barry's collage work in the first half of the book gets you to ask yourself questions about imagery and memory. The second half has writing exercises and tips for how to make more for yourself. They're excellent and I can't wait to start using them. It's also probably the only time I'll ever cry over instructions for a writing exercise.If there's anything that takes away from the book, it's that I wanted to see more about Barry's life. The short passages about her childhood and education are very interesting, but take up only a small portion of the book. It's somewhat depressing to hear that her comics became such a source of concern/depression for her, but I can understand that feeling of it becoming work and the pressure to only make "good" art. And I love her moments where she's talking with her husband and thinking of all the stuff she forgets, but goes over conversation she had years ago where she said awful things. Okay, that's my awkward ending... go read this book.
JRlibrary on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I ordered this book site unseen as a result of reading a review on a leadership blog. I'm not convinced I would have purchased it had I just picked it up in the stores, as the illustrations seem quite dark, and for my brain, the layout of the information causes me to feel something similar to a headache. This is definitely a problem with ME and not the book. I have a similar reaction when I try to read graphic novels that don't have much structure; one's where the words are just all over the page, and there are no frames drawn. Once you get past the chaos, the book is interesting, but again, not enough content for my liking. The author raises some great questions, and makes no bones about the fact that she doesn't have any answers. All in all, this was disappointing for me, but it is still a conversation starter so it might find a place on my coffee table.
JanBrady on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I wish I'd waited for the paperback. The content is great, but the hardcover version--as is usual in books with mostly graphic content--is (or was) high.
bderby on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Lynda Barry combines collage, comic, and brainstorming techniques to create this text which defies categorization. The activities in this book will spark memories and encourage creative writing about them. Barry's ideas help the individual explore their own memories and unlock details they didn't even know they had retained. "What It Is" tells the story of Barry's journey from minimalist artist to vivid cartoonist, and lays out a path for the transformation of the reader as well.
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