20 November 2009

Oh Brother!

You might be only familiar with Jonathan Franzen because of his whole "I don't think I want to be an Oprah book selection" drama. I've never actually read "The Corrections" but his non-fiction stuff is fantastic. I picked up his 2002 book of essays, "How to Be Alone," a while back and loved how smoothly and intelligently he wrote. I'm going through his book of memoir essays and it's really great so far. For example, here's an excerpt from his piece about Peanuts.

"On my night table was the Peanuts Treasury, a large, thick hardcover compilation of daily and Sunday funnies by Charles M. Schulz... Like most of the nation's ten-year-olds, I had a private, intense relationship with Snoopy, the cartoon beagle. He was a solitary not-animal animal who lived among larger creatures of a different species, which was more or less my feeling in my own house. My brothers were less like siblings than like an extra, fun pair of quasi-parents. Although I had friends and was a Cub Scout in good standing, I spent a lot of time alone with talking animals. I was an obsessive rereader of A.A. Milne and the Narnia and Dr. Dolittle novels, and my involvement with my collection of stuffed animals was on the verge of becoming age-inappropriate.

It was another point of kinship with Snoopy that he, too, liked animal games. He impersonated tigers and vultures and mountain lions, sharks, sea monsters, pythons, cows, pirahnas, penguins, and vampire bats. He was the perfect sunny egoist, starring in his ridiculous fantasies and basking in everyone's attention. In a cartoon strip full of children, the dog was the character I recognized as a child."
-"The Discomfort Zone"-