Summer Reading

Summer Reading

The Unexpectedly Bad Hair of Barcelona Smith

by Keith Graves

Philomel Books, 32 pp., $16.99

Barcelona Smith does not have bad hair. The boy's got hair straight out of Easy Rider. Blueberry blue too. And prudent, like its bearer: no monkey bars or slobbering dogs. Smiling's out of the question, really – might catch a bug in those pearly whites. Indeed, the world's fraught with peril. Roses are strictly o-u-t on the Bret Michaels' principle (BMP) alone, Frida Kahlo's thorny tangle notwithstanding. Barcelona is, of course, anything but ill-prepared. He's got his umbrella, handled properly at all times with rubber dishwashing gloves. The surgeon's mask is standard issue. "Then one humid Wednesday, Barcelona's hair ran amuck." We've all been there; you just hate to see a kid go through it the first time. "The Smith hair went bananas." Think Jimi Hendrix. "His hair skated down the sidewalk, climbed a tree, jumped a rope." Anarchy, pure and simple. Barcelona's hair – with a flip of the long, gray locks to Jimmie Dale Gilmore – springs a mind of its own. The psychedelic landscapes and palette of Austin inkosaur Keith Graves know no less, spring-loaded with big toes, Mark Twain pussycats, and bugs. Barcie, in an upside-down close-up, is simply a Dahl; his Tina Turner 'do two pages later pure coral reef. Graves' Loretta, Ace Pinky Scout was sugar 'n' spice, while 3 Nasty Gnarlies snorted far worse than snails and puppy dog tails. The Unexpectedly Bad Hair of Barcelona Smith is for anyone in dire need of a good shampooing.

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