Ballantine, $16.95, ISBN 0-7434-1917-0
This book isn’t funny. It isn’t even good. But as novelty books go, Creepy Susie and 13 Other Tragic Tales for Troubled Children is pure guilty fun. Angus Oblong may not be the new Edgar Allen Poe, but he knows how to unleash the petty little demon in anyone who fancies himself or herself a disenfranchised kid in the past. In this book, the troubled kids meet bad ends as much as they gleefully indulge in psychotic sprees we would all wish we could do in our most darkest and private psyche.
Take fat, short, ugly Helga who cannot fit in in school and is terrorised by the Heathers-type called the Debbies. She ends up murdering them by cutting off their heads before stealing their pizzas. Creepy Susie is so used to being alone that she murders the first boy who has a crush on her. The mutant Siamese quadruplets who ran away from nasty parents only to return to take vengeance on Mommy and Daddy. Maybe you harbored thoughts of killing your sibling when you were a jealous kid.
I don’t find this book entirely funny – the humor’s uneven, actually. The illustrations are a mix of repulsive grotesqueness and child-like artlessness, but there’s nothing childish about the self-loathing misanthropy seething from the troubled teenagers of this book. Anyone who has a drunk parent who made life hell to live in might find Waldo & Bean too close for comfort.
Mr Oblong doesn’t shy away from the cruelties of teenagers and parents especially when one is a teen who can’t find a clique to stick to. This book isn’t for kids at all, teenagers yes, kids no. But if you are the type to put Pink on the CD player and scream “Don’t let me get me!” to the music and your high school reunion is the last thing you will go to because everyone there sucks, Creepy Susie and 13 Other Tragic Tales for Troubled Children is your bible.