Blauner, founder of Blauner Books Literary Agency, is the editor of several anthologies, including Our Boston (for the benefit of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings), Brothers and Central Park. He is the co-editor of For the Love of Baseball and has appeared on NPR's On Point, The Leonard Lopate Show, Brian Lehrer and On Writing With Ben Cheever. Blauner, 51, is a graduate of the Collegiate School in Manhattan and holds a bachelor's in political science from Brown University and a master's in business administration from Columbia Business School. In his newest release, The Good Book, he presents 32 writers, including Edwidge Danticat, Tobias Wolff and Rick Moody, sharing thoughts on what their favorite Bible passage is and why it is most meaningful to them.
What's on your nightstand?
The King in the Window by Adam Gopnik (who wrote the introduction to The Good Book). He is such a beautiful writer. It's based on a 12-year-old American boy in Paris, and after the attacks on Paris, my interest was heightened, I think. There's a little bit of magical realism in it. It's good. I'm loving it and champing at the bit to get more into that. I also have in front of me A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition. Charlie Brown producer Lee Mendelson and animator Bill Melendez share their experiences. One person whose presence I was in and was in complete awe of was Charles Schulz.
When were you in Schulz's presence?
I had (a client) who was putting a collection of essays together concerning death and mothers. I had seen Schulz give an interview on A&E and I had remembered how he spoke of his mom, and although I knew he was private, I wrote on the writer's behalf and asked him to write something. I thought maybe I'd get a form letter back, but we received a letter from him. He didn't (contribute to the book), but he said in the letter, "If you ever find yourself in Santa Rosa, California, it would be great to meet you.''
I called my girlfriend and said we're planning a trip to Santa Rosa. Next thing you know, we're in his office. He was working on a strip with Lucy and Peppermint Patty.
Was he serious or jovial?
Oh no, he was serious. He was serious but very friendly. He was melancholic. ... Schulz was quite religious and spiritual.
Remember (in Charlie Brown's Christmas), at the end when Linus delivers a soliloquy? Well, he says a Bible verse (Luke 2: 8-14). You know, I missed the deadline for the epigraph for The Good Book, but if I hadn't, it probably would have been what Linus said.
What was the impetus for The Good Book?
I'm one of the least religious people I know, but I had a curiosity about how relevant, omnipresent references to the Bible are in the secular world with people who would not identify themselves as being religious. There's the prodigal son, the Good Samaritan, an eye for an eye. References are everywhere.
After completing the anthology, did you realize that it tapped into your spirituality?
I wouldn't say that. At this point, at 51, I can remember a time in my life where I felt like I had more of a spiritual awakening, but it definitely made me want to go back and re-read the Bible itself.
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