The 33 essays, poems, and cartoons in this book, most original to the volume, are affectionate valentines to Charles M. Schulz’s much-loved comic strip, Peanuts—syndicated in newspapers from 1950 to 2000—that gauge the cultural impact of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang. Adam Gopnik, in “Good Griefs,” compares Schulz’s characters—kids who inhabit “the recognizable grown-up world of thwarted ambition and delusional longing”—to those of Chekhov and Salinger. Mona Simpson riffs on the theme of unrequited love rampant in the strip in “Triangle with Piano” and Sarah Boxer does the same on Snoopy the beagle’s self-invented heroic persona in “The Exemplary Narcissism of Snoopy.” Jonathan Lethem’s “Grief,” a Peanuts-referencing pastiche of Allen Ginsberg’s landmark poem “Howl,” is so perfect one could imagine a beat Linus (to whom it is dedicated) having written it. Editor Blauner includes appreciations of the animated Peanuts television specials and thought pieces ranging from the scholarly to the intimately personal by Umberto Eco, Jonathan Franzen, Maxine Hong Kingston, Rick Moody, and others. This is a heartwarming tribute to Schulz’s inimitable strip and the influence it had on its everyday audience. (Oct.)
Deeply personal and often moving, THE PEANUTS PAPERS shine a light on the enormous impact the work of Charles M. Schulz has had on a generation of writers and artists . . . and on the world as a whole.” —Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid
“A heartwarming tribute to Schulz’s inimitable strip and the influence it had on its everyday audience.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Anyone who enjoyed the comics or TV specials will recognize their experiences in these pages and have their appreciation of Schulz’s genius renewed." —Library Journal (Starred Review)
“Top-flight...Essential reading for Peanuts fans and an appealing collection of personal writing for any reader.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A diverse and illustrious line-up of authors, whose thoughtful and heartfelt accolades attest to Schulz’s enduring vision and his strip’s abiding place in American culture.” — Booklist
"Peanuts came at you a hundred miles an hour, under the radar of the parents and subversive as Hell. The adults told lies that didn’t hold up. Peanuts told the truth: the popular kids aren’t ever going to let you in; the kid you’re in love with won’t ever love you back; the most worthwhile people in life are the oddballs. I loved this book, which revealed to me the depth of my feelings for that comic strip - and also the vastness of its readership: millions of children reading the same four panels at the breakfast table, day after day. Reading this book was like finding a lost album of childhood photographs. It's an unexpected powerhouse of a book, and if Peanuts was part of your childhood, it will knock you out." Caitlin Flanagan
"Good grief! Who knew that a mere ( if admittedly great) comic strip, could inspire such great writing? Charles Schulz's unforgettable characters Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, Linus and Schroeder, among others have brought out profound personal musings and keen cultural insights in a group of talented writers, including Bruce Handy, Adam Gopnik and Ann Patchett. Anyone reading these essays will immediately be brought back to the 'emotional gore' of childhood, as Handy puts it, and to that yawning suburban landscape where Charlie Brown is always aspiring and always falling short, Lucy is always crabby, Snoopy is always dreaming up undog-like scenarios, Linus is an inveterate egghead on a par with Lionel Trilling, and Schroeder is channeling Beethoven. THE PEANUTS PAPERS is is an anthology unlike any other, to be treasured and earmarked. And for God's sake, keep it out of the rain." Daphne Merkin
“If you could conjure some new secular Bible fashioned from popular culture, is there any doubt that Peanuts would be in it? Charles Schulz’s beloved comic strip was shrewd but always down to earth, simple but sophisticated, generous but trenchant, and anchored in a handful of characters yet somehow universal. The product of a particular moment in time, Peanuts today lives timelessly outside it—forever funny and humane. Now, in THE PEANUTS PAPERS, writers of every age and stripe bring their own memories and imaginations to this classic strip—and in so doing so, show just how much they were inspired by it.” —Cullen Murphy, author of Cartoon County: My Father and His Friends in the Golden Age of Make-Believe
Top-flight writers contemplate "Peanuts," a comic strip that's especially inviting to a wealth of interpretations.
That's partly because the apparent simplicity of Charles Schulz's creation was often deceptive: Ivan Brunetti is one of a handful of cartoonists here who note that Schulz rendered a variety of expressions with inimitable ease. "He made comics into a broader language of emotion," concurs Chris Ware. The emotion most contributors gravitate to is melancholy, which is to say that Charlie Brown gets much of the attention. He embodies a "daily tragedy" (Umberto Eco); an "introduction to adult problems" (Chuck Klosterman); and a "gospel" of "disillusionment" (Jonathan Franzen). Even free-wheeling Snoopy is often seen as an existential figure: As Sarah Boxer writes, he is "shallow in his way, but he's also deep, and in the end deeply alone, as deeply alone as Charlie Brown is." Tales of Brown-ian embarrassments and insecurities abound, though often in a spirit of gratitude toward Schulz for ferrying the authors into adulthood. Among the most powerful contributions are Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell's "Happiness Is Fleeting," about her insecurity as a young artist, and Jennifer Finley Boylan's "You're Weird Sir," about her identification with Peppermint Patty while growing up "a closeted transgender child." The bulk of the pieces are personal essays, which can feel tonally repetitive, and there are too few actual comics. However, there's plenty of entertaining counterprogramming. Jonathan Lethem's "Grief" is a winning mashup of "Peanuts" quotes and Allen Ginsberg's "Howl"; Peter Kramer considers Lucy's 5-cent psychiatry booth from the perspective of professional psychiatry; and Elissa Schappell stands up for Charlie's kid sister, Sally, an iconoclast too often dismissed as the strip's dim bulb. "Sally isn't innocent, she's cynical," Schappell insists; if there's a running theme to this book, it's that Schulz masterfully imagined a world filled with children that is also bereft of innocence. Other notable contributors include George Saunders, David Hajdu, Ann Patchett, and Maxine Hong Kingston.
Essential reading for "Peanuts" fans and an appealing collection of personal writing for any reader.
With this special publication, the Library of America releases its first volume on one of the most popular art forms of the 20th century, newspaper comics. Contributors celebrate Charles M. Schulz (1922–2000), whose strip Peanuts provided a common experience for generations of readers, created a multimedia empire, and was marked by subtlety, psychological insight, philosophical depth, and wry humor. Literary agent Blauner (editor, Coach; Brothers) gathers mostly new tributes, analyses, memoirs, comics, and poems by an impressive roster of essayists, novelists, and cartoonists to consider Schulz's art alone. The work does not include interviews or biographical details. Many writers recall the effect Peanuts had on their lives, while others analyze Schulz's themes and explore the sophisticated world he created with respect, affection, and wit. More broadly, the book provides compelling evidence and highlights a popular culture phenomenon and artistic accomplishment of a long-running, daily creative work. VERDICT To be dipped into rather than read through, this volume will appeal to many readers. Anyone who enjoyed the comics or TV specials will recognize their experiences in these pages and have their appreciation of Schulz's genius renewed.—Bill Hardesty, Georgia State Univ. Libs., Atlanta