I just finished reading My Charlie Brown Life, Debi Staples’s “spiritual autobiography”, recently made available by the small e-book and print-on-demand publisher SynergEBooks. This book tells the tale of her life, and her journey from a church-oriented Christian belief to [SPOILER ALERT] a much more general God-is-everyone spirituality, peppered with a bit of Native American animal spirit belief and at least interest in a range of what some describe as “new age” practices.
Now, I’m not going to rely review the book. Books like this, despite the Peanutsy trappings, are likely aimed for others on a spiritual quest, and that ain’t me. And to a certain degree, reviewing this book would be reviewing her life, and who am I to judge?
But she does invoke Peanuts, and that I can judge. She sees a lot of Charlie Brown in herself, and the middle section of the book is explaining how she sees other people in her life as other Peanuts characters. There is a little Charlie Brown figure that she uses on the top of between-chapters vignettes, and many (but not all) chapters start with a quote from Peanuts. That’s where I can come in and make some commentary.
One of the chapters happens to quote this panel:
The problem is that… that’s not real Peanuts. That’s actually an example of This Charming Charlie, a project where someone has been taking Peanuts panels and replaces the dialogue with lyrics from the songs of the band The Smiths. (This is not the only time in the book that the quote actually comes from an Internet image rather than any Peanuts strip or show.)
Before getting the book, I checked the website of the publisher, where they admit to counting on the authors to arrange any deep editing, but say they do provide a copy edit. However, this book could have used a good copy edit, for grammar and sometimes for spelling (of course, Charles Schulz’s name is misspelled each of the four or five time it appears.) And to pile things on top of that, the author claims to be a reasonably good editor herself. It was only when I got near the end that I found a reason to excuse this. While the author had alluded to having a “home business” throughout the book, it was not mentioned what it was for most of the book. Turns out, she’s a publisher. That’s right, SynergEBooks is her business. And as someone who is in much the same situation: a print-on-demand and e-book publisher who mainly publishes other people’s work, but sometimes publishes his own, I can tell you that the hardest work to copy edit is your own.