Someone once said that we buy books because we like to imagine we will one day have the time to read them. That's me to a tee. Every time I go into my Barnes & Noble I see 20 books I'd love to read but know I likely never will. I spend so much time reading magazines and newspapers and the internet that I really only allow myself to read books on plane rides.
So, in two hour bursts, I am currently working my way through Volume Two of Simon Callow's massive three- part biography of Orson Welles, called Hello Americans. It is dense but worth it, much like Scarlett Johansson. I knew quite a bit about Welles' early triumphs with the Mercury Radio Theater and, of course, Citizen Kane, but was really interested in finding out how that brilliant career was derailed so soon after his film debut and reading about the decades of meandering and often unfinished projects afterward. It is a fascinating read about a talented man who was his own worst enemy.
When I am done with Orson I am really looking forward to the new biography of cartoonist Charles Schulz, just out. Authorized by Chucks' estate, some of whom are now complaining that their patriarch is portrayed as too melancholy and not the fun man they knew, it's called Schulz and Peanuts by David Michaelis.
From Publisher's Weekly: "For all the joy Charlie Brown and the gang gave readers over half a century, their creator, Charles Schulz, was a profoundly unhappy man. It's widely known that he hated the name Peanuts, which was foisted on the strip by his syndicate. But Michaelis, given access to family, friends and personal papers, reveals the full extent of Schulz's depression, tracing its origins in his Minnesota childhood, with parents reluctant to encourage his artistic dreams and yearbook editors who scrapped his illustrations without explanation. Nearly 250 Peanuts strips are woven into the biography, demonstrating just how much of his life story Schulz poured into the cartoon. In one sequence, Snoopy's crush on a girl dog is revealed as a barely disguised retelling of the artist's extramarital affair. Michaelis is especially strong in recounting Schulz's artistic development, teasing out the influences on his unique characterization of children. And Michaelis makes plain the full impact of Peanuts' first decades and how much it puzzled and unnerved other cartoonists. This is a fascinating account of an artist who devoted his life to his work in the painful belief that it was all he had."