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They Call Me Mad Dog: A Story for Bitter, Lonely People by Erika Lopez

By MySharona | Books | November 3, 2009 |

By MySharona | Books | November 3, 2009 |

The main character, Tomato Rodriguez, is an artist. By which I mean she makes sculptures of the male anatomy that Babeland aficionados would squee over. She’s also head over heels in love with her girlfriend, Hodie. The easy, comfortable kind of lesbian love that consists of watching “Matlock” reruns in a hazy bliss of uncoolness and contentment. The older, more experienced Hodie promises to love only Tomato forever in the waiting room of the free clinic, and they celebrate their newfound monogamy by throwing away the latex gloves.

But once Tomato finds out that Hodie’s been cattin’ around on her, revenge is the only thing on her mind. A botched kidnapping leads to Tomato being framed for murder, and she passes time in jail while she tries to figure out what went wrong and where.

But that little plot summary isn’t really capturing what I love about this book. Lopez fills the pages with her crazy, weird illustrations. The story is brimming with pop culture references and flashbacks that are at best embarrassing and at worst wildly inappropriate. She compares Oprah and Jerry Springer as opposing ways of life, claiming that on Jerry’s show “whether we’re black, yellow, red, or American blue we can all be proud white trash on parade.” She is irreverent, she is insane, but most of all, she is hilarious.

Lastly, I’m including a favorite passage from the book, on how to deal with anger:

We give tissues for tears, we give hugs for accomplishments, and we hand over teddy bears in the dark. But when you get angry, some people cower and think it’s all over between you, while others threaten to drive powder blue Cadillacs through your front door. Therapists tell you to sit and feel the electricity of anger burning through your extremities, while religion tells you to just go do something nice for someone. Give them a corn cob duck …

Because although there might be that sisterhood thing poking up its little fallopian tentacles everywhere, that gets tedious and boring the way most NAACP stuff gets, so then it really all comes down to simply looking good, doesn’t it? Lots and lots of glitter. Puerto Ricans and drag queens knew it all the time.

Really, check this one out. Though it might not be available in your library, you can find it online and in bookstores. And if you really can’t find a copy no matter how hard you try, give me a call. I have two.

This review is part of the ongoing Cannonball Read series. You can find this year’s participants here, and more of MySharona’s reviews at her blog, The Functional Weirdo.