Schulz and Peanuts

And you thought Charlie Brown had issues. The beleaguered cartoon character apparently had nothing on his creator, Charles Schulz, presented in David Michaelis?s thorough and revealing doorstop of a biography as bitter, anxious, petty, and depressed. While initially supportive family members have denounced Michaelis?s portrayal of the legendary Peanuts cartoonist, the author builds a compelling case that Schulz, a Minnesota native and barber?s son, suffered from profound feelings of inadequacy. Even after achieving staggering success, he still vividly rehashed ancient slights like his defeat in a drawing contest in junior high school. Michaelis finds evidence of Schulz?s turmoil in the work itself, weaving 240 Peanuts strips into the text. Schulz amassed almost unimaginable wealth licensing his characters for feel-good products like stuffed animals and greeting cards, but the excerpted comics are reminders of how dark and emotionally brutal Peanuts could be. If you didn?t need to be reminded of that, then you?ll likely appreciate this exhaustive look at the man behind what Schulz himself called ?the cruelest strip going.? But if Peanuts conjures childhood memories of clutching a Snoopy doll and reading Happiness Is a Warm Puppy, then Michaelis may have uncovered more than you care to know. -

July 23: Jessica Mitford died on this day in 1996.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).