Thursday, January 22, 2009

Snooping Around My Library...

I'm quite the fan of Peanuts by Charles Schulz. I'm often met with puzzlement when I laugh out loud at the strips. Not that others don't appreciate them or find them funny. I just seem to be overly tickled by what appears mildly amusing or mundane to most people.

Naturally, I enjoy the escapades of the black and white beagle. I believe my favorite is when he pretends to be a World Famous Grocery Clerk. Yes, you read that right. Is there even such a thing as a World Famous Grocery Clerk? (A Google search reveals only references to Snoopy.) Hence, the humor.

But I of course also love his writing endeavors, striving to be a World Famous Author. Perhaps you are familiar with him plunking out "It was a dark and stormy night" and then declaring that 'Good writing is hard work.'

I'm especially pleased to have two books which are now apparently rare. One is a little paperback collection of some of the strips chronicling the progress of his novel. For those of you not familar with it, here is the first part of Snoopy's epic as it generally appears in the panels of the comics:

Part I: It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly, a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.

Part II is equally random and introduces even more disjointed characters and situations such as the little girl in the tattered shawl had not sold a violet all day. But in a flurry of "Could it be that..." these are all tied together. Although Linus is bonked on the head with the typewriter sailing through the air for asking "But what about the king?"

What makes this little paperback especially wonderful is in this version, the book is not constantly rejected as it is in the original comics. Yes, Snoopy faints from becoming a published author. Still more delightful is that it contains a copy of his novel! Cover, dedication, back cover, author photo and all. In fact, it extends the story so that it follows to conclusion - with text I have not seen appear anywhere else.

Also in my personal library is the hardcover edition of Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life. It, too, collects strips about Snoopy's attempts at a novel. Some of the them are the same, of course, but here you will also find the many variants of the line "It was a dark and stormy night." Plus, it has the snippets of his 'romance novel.' (These usually revolve around fights between a man and a woman.) It shows his responses and reactions to rejection letters, his struggles as a writer as well as his other book ideas.

But this book, too, is more than just reprints of past comics. It has essays on writing from 32 best-selling authors. Each essay is paired with an appropriate Snoopy strip. Many facets of the writing life are explored. Whether it be getting started, dealing with rejections, finding ideas and inspiration, the likes of Ray Bradbury, Julia Child, Clive Cussler, Sue Grafton, Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steel and William F. Buckley, Jr. dole out savvy advice ranging from the humorous to the inspirational. The book is, in the words Peppermint Patty's father uses to describe her, a rare gem.

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