20 years ago, I had the dumb luck to order Dutch cartoonist and columnist Peter Van Straaten’s This Literary Life from the Daedalus Books catalog. At the time, I felt a wee bit pretentious having a collection of pen-and-ink cartoons about the “trials and tribulations of the literati” conspicuously atop the coffe table. Two decades hence, however, I’m glad for my aspirational tastes for it’s a real treasure.
The one-panel cartoons offer an unflinching if occasionally sentimental look at writing life in a manner that’s as affirming as it is darkly comic. Despite the fact that Van Straaten wrote and drew This Literary Life eons before Amazon, Kindle and ebooks existed, the essential quandaries he explores are timeless. Moreover, it’s in keeping with Van Straaten’s sad luck sensibility that you can presently obtain your own edition of This Literary Life on Amazon for a penny. And, for the sake of full disclosure, I get a cut of that penny if you buy the book from the link above. Sigh.