Yourgrau's edgy series of NASTYbooks work hard to subvert the niceties of traditional children's literature. Forget caring-means-sharing: herein lies wickedness, mischief, and savagery – with the goal of eliciting massive laughs.
Barry's latest NASTY offering is Yet Another NASTYbook: MiniNasties, which features "vicious little poems, dialogues and tiny tales, for kids 10 and up."
Ask around and Yourgrau seems to provoke a cornucopia of reactions from his readers. "Barry Yourgrau makes me shudder…" says Lemony Snicket, of A Series of Unfortunate Incidents fame. David Byrne says, "I can never remember my dreams, so Barry Yourgrau's stories are a pretty good substitute." And Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys insists that "Barry Yourgrau manages to articulate your most bugged-out daydreams."
Barry himself, in an essay written for Powells.com, describes the NASTYbooks series as "provocative," and "… kind of anti-fairy tales — where everything turns out not for the best but always for the worst." He also dishes advice on how best to chat with a room full of 10-year olds: to open or close with "A boy likes to pick his nose…"?
Yourgrau can also keep it adult-minded and even political, writing at The Huffington Post. Of course, the writing there holds the same nasty edge, though for a decidedly different audience (e.g. "Dear Alberto Gonzalez: Living Fart Joke").
Barry's also a self-described battle-hardened spoken word performer. Check him out on YouTube, reading stories and opining on a variety of nastily eclectic topics:
Where do ideas come from?
Comic writing, fearing the dark, and the art of the anti-fairy tale
"My Friend Bill"
Inventing imaginary friends
A monkey wants a birthday party
"I think there's something really strange about the foreign exchange student…"