The Personal History of Peter Leroy
The Personal History is one large work of fiction composed of many interconnected parts.
Its parts are the memoirs and collected works of a fictional character, Peter Leroy, who tells an alternative version of his life story; explores the effect of imagination on perception, memory, hope, and fear; holds a fun-house mirror to scenes of life in the United States; ruminates upon the nature of the universe and the role of human consciousness within it; and prods and probes the painful world of time and place in search of the niches where hilarity hides.
Like the ingredients in a good clam chowder, each piece of this work is intended to contribute its individual flavor and texture to a single savory dish. In a chowder, there will be clams, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, some bits of bacon or salt pork, herbs, spices, and (if you’ve used good fresh clams) some dark, gritty bits at the bottom — with a rich broth to hold the whole thing together and distribute the combined essence of all the flavors throughout the bowl. Similarly, each of the books has its own texture and tang, and Peter Leroy’s personal history, adventures, experiences, and observations (and Kraft’s) are distributed throughout the bowl to hold the whole concoction together and flavor each bite with his imagination, voice, and style (and Kraft’s).
“The closest thing I can compare the Peter Leroy stories to is Calvin & Hobbes. Both are, on the surface, whimsical stories of precocious kids with fantastic imaginations. You get pulled in because they’re fun. But once you’re in, you begin to appreciate how many levels the creator is working on. In the same way Calvin & Hobbes was a profoundly creative accomplishment that crossed all the boundaries of what a comic strip could do, the Peter Leroy stories do the same in their own medium."
“Eric Kraft has spent his writing career creating a series
of comic masterpieces. . . and am I ever glad he did. . . . The books can be read in any order,
but be warned: Once you start the series, you won't want to read anything else until you finish
Nancy Pearl, Book Lust
“Because Kraft expresses an abiding faith in steadfast
love and impossible dreams, because he uses humor to shape a humanistic
ethos, and because he takes profound pleasure in the resonance of language
and the magic of storytelling, reading Kraft’s inventive and effervescent
tales is a rare and sustaining joy.”
Donna Seaman, Newsday
“Perhaps the most ambitious and rewarding literary enterprise of our time.
. . . Even when you find yourself laughing aloud, it would be a mistake
to take Eric Kraft lightly.”
Andrew Ervin, The San Francisco Chronicle
“The cumulative effect of Kraft’s work is of a sober humor that refuses easy answers. . . . This is
crafty work indeed and certain to endure when more pretentious and more touted writers
Bob Williams, The Compulsive Reader
“Reading the Peter Leroy saga is akin to watching
a champion juggler deftly keep dozens of balls in the air while executing
an intricate double-time dance routine—all without breathing hard. . .
. Sentimental, loving, raucous, wise, and great fun, this is simply not
to be missed.”
“This series is smart, funny, warmly inviting, and delightfully impossible to define.”
Kate Bernheimer, The Oregonian
“Eric Kraft’s essential subject is suburban boyhood—in
particular, that moment when it loses its innocence. . . . Like Lawrence
Sterne, Kraft is unashamedly sentimental,
digressive, and extremely funny;
like Proust, profoundly nostalgic and obsessed with loss. The typical
Kraft novel is a laugh-out-loud read with undertones of grief and ruefulness.
Almost all of his books revolve around a single individual, Peter Leroy,
who is now . . . as fully realized as any character in current American
literature. . . . Under the surface humor, Kraft’s take on the national
experience is thoughtful, disturbing, and unlike that of any other
Anthony Brandt, Men’s Journal
The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences
& Observations of Peter Leroy is one of the biggest, funniest, sweetest, and looniest undertakings
in contemporary American fiction.
John Strausbaugh, New York Press
“One of the cleverest and most charming literary enterprises in recent American fiction.”
Mahinder Kingra, The City Paper (Baltimore)
“Is there a more beguiling writer today than Eric Kraft?”
“Mr. Kraft’s work is a weird wonder, successfully mating tales
from the kind of small-town life that hardly exists anymore with a never-ending
examination of what it’s like to create such a world. His preoccupation
with the homely lives of the citizens of Babbington is adroitly offset
by his passion for the story of telling the story . . . . In an age when computer technology
is on the verge of unleashing the all-singing, all-dancing novel, Eric
Kraft’s true theme, the awesome power of the low-tech human imagination,
has never seemed so timely or so wise.”
Karen Karbo, The New York Times Book Review
“Anyone who has mourned, or yearned for, his or her
younger self will find Kraft an enchantment.”
“An ever-evolving comic masterpiece. Beneath the dazzling comic antics, Kraft has a serious purpose: to investigate the nature and interaction of memory, reality,
Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times
“Charming but never sappy, droll but never cynical, Peter Leroy’s adventures constitute one of our wittiest
and most acute portraits of America at mid-century. In the bargain,
they are the literary equivalent of Fred Astaire dancing: great art that looks like fun.”
Malcolm Jones, Jr., Newsweek
“The Peter Leroy stories and novels of Eric Kraft
are among the mostingenious works of recent fiction. They are this fine writer’s way of using fiction
to deal with that age-old dilemma of art, the links between illusion and
Roger Harris, The Newark Star Ledger
"Reading Kraft reminds me of listening to Leon Redbone. By the time you get to the third tune you're on Redbone time. In the same way Kraft, as the book proceeds, takes control of time in a subtle way. I mean that in two ways I think. You are in another time and you are moving at a different speed."