Review by Booklist Review
Two decades after the death of its creator, Charles Schulz, interest in and love for Peanuts continues unabated, evinced by this collection of essays extolling the beloved comic strip. The 33 contributors include prestigious novelists (Jonathan Franzen, George Saunders), cultural critics (Adam Gopnik, Chuck Klosterman), and Schulz's fellow cartoonists (Chris Ware, Seth), who contribute essays ranging from the academic to the personal, as well as a smattering of poems and cartoons, two-thirds of which were penned especially for this volume. Many of the essayists tell of their childhood connection with the travails and foibles of the preternaturally seasoned tykes despite, or because of, Peanuts' essential bleakness. Journalist Bruce Handy was comforted by Charlie Brown's relentless suffering, which served as a lightning rod for my own anxieties about my place in the world. It's hard to imagine any other comic strip eliciting paeans from such 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.--Gordon Flagg Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
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.)
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Review by Library Journal Review
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
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
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. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.