Thursday, December 3, 2009


A Book of Ages is full of touchstones, just as our lives are. If we can't invent our own touchstones, they're provided for us by sit-coms and columnists and comic strips and stand-up comics. They fit neatly into a book like mine. I included as many of them as I could think of. Little annotations explaining our lives to us. Sometimes it's only a deadpan commentary. We didn't get Peanuts in our daily paper; it came in the evening edition, hardly fair. Luckily it's in reruns now, and it's as if my childhood is being explained to me. Though I doubt I was as percipient as Linus. Looking at the photograph of me sitting on the stoop in my snowsuit I may have been about as downbeat as Charlie Brown. Sometimes anyway.

Today's Peanuts strip is a pretty good reprise of my book's take on life. We always figure we could have done better. Charles Schulz appears 14 times in A Book of Ages, getting a dog, having his cartoons rejected by his high school yearbook, having his marriage proposal rejected by a young woman with red hair, starting a comic strip, introducing us to the idea of the football we will never be allowed to kick, explaining why Christmas is sometimes so depressing. So many of his strips were touchstones. I enjoy picturing Schulz as Grand Marshall of the Rose Bowl Parade. An unlikely apotheosis.

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