Saturday, September 01, 2007

Kirkus Peanuts -- Jay


Sept. 1, 2007
a starred review!!!

“Everything affects everything,” declares Hannah Baker, who killed herself two weeks ago. After her death, Clay Jensen—who had a crush on Hannah—finds seven cassette tapes in a brown paper package on his doorstep. Listening to the tapes, Hannah chronicles her downward spiral and the 13 people who led her to make this horrific choice. Evincing the subtle—and not so subtle—cruelties of teen life, from rumors, to reputations, to rape, Hannah explains to her listeners that, “in the end, everything matters.” Most of the novel quite literally takes place in Clay’s head, as he listens to Hannah’s voice pounding in his ears through his headphones, creating a very intimate feel for the reader as Hannah explains herself. Her pain is gut-wrenchingly palpable, and the reader is thrust face-first into a world where everything is related, an intricate yet brutal tapestry of events, people and places. Asher has created an entrancing character study and a riveting look into the psyche of someone who would make this unfortunate choice. A brilliant and mesmerizing debut from a gifted new author.

Guess why I keep getting giddier and giddier the closer it gets to October 16th? I’ll give you two hints. One: I’ve been anticipating this moment for years. Two: It has to do with a certain book sitting on bookstore and library shelves all across the country. Give up? It’s the release date of Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography!

For the record: My book—Thirteen Reasons Why—comes out two days later on October 18th…write it down.

I am a huge Charles Schulz and Peanuts fan. It has a lot to do with the worldview portrayed in the comic strip that I always “got”…even when my friends thought comics were supposed to be straight-out hilarious or sarcastic. And the more I learned about the artist who spoke about this worldview, the more I began to understand my own creativity.

When I told Robin what this post was going to be about, she wanted to know specifics as to why I felt this connection to the artist and the strip. But I couldn’t tell her...because I couldn’t put it into words. Last year, my wife and I went to the Charles M. Schulz museum in Santa Rosa, CA. There’s a nice theater in the museum and we sat through a documentary about Mr. Schulz as well as an interview he did with Charlie Rose. When the lights came on, my wife looked at me and said, “I get it now.” Maybe it’s time for a Disco Mermaid road-trip to Santa Rosa?

Fun fact: I hardly ever wear hats. But when Thirteen Reasons Why was going through the week-long auction process, I wore a striped Charlie Brown hat (from the Schulz museum) every single day.

So while you’re all flipping through 200+ pages about a girl who commits suicide, I’ll be losing myself in 600+ pages about Charles “Sparky” Schulz. (Did you know he passed away mere hours before the newspaper containing the final Peanuts strip appeared on his doorstep? Talk about living for your art!)

- Jay

By the way, Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography received a starred review in Publishers Weekly.

This was the main character in a strip I created when I was 13.


Natalie said...

Congratulations, Jay! What a well-deserved review. So you wore the Charlie Brown hat during auction week....hmmmm. Where can I get myself one of those?? :-)

Kelly Fineman said...

Congratulations, Jay, on a well-earned review!

And you're right -- I didn't know that comics had antennas too.

Colorado Writer said...

It's only the beginning! xxoo

Lisa Yee said...

Jay didn't get a rock, he got a star.


Anonymous said...

congrats on the awesome starred review, jay!! whoo hooo. i predict only shimmery roads ahead. =)


tammi said...

Brilliant AND mesmerizing?!


Greg said...

Hey Jay,

Congrats on the review. Looking forward to getting my very own signed copy. greg

Sunday Scribblings said...

Awesome review!!! I totally think Kirkus writes the best reviews. They have the best taste AND their reviewers can really WRITE!

As for Peanuts, I'm one who doesn't get it. And I even lived in Santa Rosa and never went to the museum. Missed opportunity!

Love the hat, though. It's now your "auction hat" -- may there be many more such, gut-wrenching as they are!

Dot said...

Wowee, wow, wow, on the Kirkus review, Jay!

And I'm a Peanuts fan from way back, too. Although when I was a child, the Charlie Brown stuff rent my heart and I hated that part. Now that I'm an old, bitter adult, I laugh when they give him rocks.

Sarah Beth Durst said...

AWESOME review, Jay! Congratulations!!!

LindaBudz said...

Gifted indeed. Congratulations!

And, nice hat!

Mac McCool said...

Great tribute to Sparky, Jay! The Santa Rosa Museum is a place I've got to see! (And great review!!)

"e" said...

Jay - congratulations on the great review!! I can't wait to read it.
Elizabeth O. Dulemba

lkmadigan said...

That review is frame-worthy!

We went to the Schulz Museum a year ago August - fantastic! "Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown" was playing in the theatre. I especially loved the comic strip tiles in the restrooms!

Our whole family loves Peanuts - my LiveJournal icon is Lucy wearing an iPod. And my son dressed up as Charlie Brown for Halloween a couple of years ago. We found one of the old 1970s-era masks on eBay for him to wear, and got a yellow shirt from a thrift store, and painted the big black zigzag on it.


a. fortis said...

Congrats, Jay--fantastic review. Very exciting, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Joey said...

Mesmerizing is a great description for your work...congrats. And Charlie Brown, definitely one of the great ones!

Disco Mermaids said...

Thanks for sharing in my excitement, y'all!

Working at a library, my co-workers were absolutely flipping out over this review. Have you ever seen a bunch of librarians scream for joy, lock arms, then dance around in circles?

It's pretty cool.

- Jay

gail said...

Pretty cool indeed!!!

The momentum builds.

Great review, on a great book!


Anonymous said...

Your book sounds amazing. I can't wait to read it. I wonder, though, do you have any concerns about impressionable teens attempting suicide after reading 13 Reasons? I'm sure you are hoping for just the opposite. But I know that my daughter and some of her friends decided to experiment with cutting after reading the fabulous book Cut by Patricia McCormick, so it makes me hesitant to allow her to read your book. What are your thoughts?

Disco Mermaids said...

This is a valid question, Anonymous. And I'm sorry to hear about your daughter's horrible experience with cutting. But I can't comment any further because I don't know your daughter's situation and I've also never read Cut.

Obviously, the scenario you're asking about (in regards to Thirteen Reasons Why) would be any author's worst nightmare. One of the things I mention in my book is that suicide has such a stigma to it that our society doesn't do a good job of honestly discussing this very serious issue. Because of that, many teens (or anyone, for that matter) often feel like no one else is experiencing their feelings...which is why they rarely seek help. We end up stuffing the issue of suicide into a dark corner, which is itself a tragedy.

Even though my main intention in writing Thirteen Reasons Why was to create an extremely suspenseful book, I did try to sneak in some messages since I had that opportunity. Hannah does not come off as heroic, nor do I romanticize her decision. Instead, my intent was to raise questions to be pondered from an outsider's perspective (which, in my book, is Clay's well as the reader's). Was Hannah's life as hopeless as she felt it was? Did she accept help from others? Did her life have to be a tragedy? I hope that people who find themselves in Hannah's shoes will notice a similar pattern in their own lives, then seek help. I also hope that people who find themselves in the shoes of some of the other characters will think a little more about how they treat other people. As Hannah says, everything affects everything.

Thank you for this chance to express myself.

- Jay

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this very thoughtful answer, Jay. I look forward to reading your book. It sounds like you've dealt honestly and courageously with a difficult topic.

Anonymous said...

Jay, I went to B&N on Sat. and saw a display of your book in NJ. I didn't have any money on me, so I sat down and read the first two chapters. The book is truly captivating. I can't wait to go back and purchase it. Congrats on your long awaited success.

W.L. Decker