You Can Fly by Chuck Rosenthal

Kirkus Reviews:

“Dispatching Peter (who grows up, changes his name, marries, and becomes a California yoga instructor) from the narrative by transforming him into an overprotective grown-up incapable of comprehending his angst-ridden son is as disrespectful a bit of storytelling as it is disingenuous.”



“Those who loved the original tale will be delighted to encounter the original characters. But just as as Barrie’s readers have grown up, so has the familiar cast. Peter now hails from Topanga Canyon, the child of hippies suspiciously well informed about the roots of the Peter Pan story. Tinkerbell is the suspicious little bitch we always knew she was. Wendy is given a feminist update — no more kinder but martial arts, thank you very much. There is a Kali-like queen of the gypsies with a sexy backstory and a Tiger Lily bent on Peter’s seduction, occasioning some fantasy footwork having to do with age and agelessness.  There are transcendent mermaids and talking trees. In Rosenthal’s retelling, Hook and Smee are the agents of change, longing for power and blood sacrifice, the goal being the destruction of innocence itself.”

—Karen Kevorkian, author of Lizard Dream


“Peter Pan in Topanga! In the tradition of the best American fabulist fiction and classic bedtime lore, Chuck Rosenthal reconstructs the lineage of the ultimate Lost Boy and a recovered rite of passage—with tenderness, fierce intellect and humor.”

—Jazmin Aminian, publisher of Letters at 3am Press


Kiddy lit, at its best, is subversive and terrifying. It teems with archetypes that are shrouded in the gossamer vestments of innocence. We who have read such tales to our children have seen through that fabric into the dark and gooey libidinal stuff of which they are the issue. Chuck Rosenthal’s Blakean sequel to the Peter Pan tale is both discomforting and exhilarating, like irony and flight.”

—Richard Katrovas, author of Swastika into Lotus


“In Chuck Rosenthal’s comic re-visioning of the Peter Pan story — when the “new Pan” sets off with Tinker Bell to Never Never Land and encounters his father’s old nemeses – we are taken to a magical place that is at once familiar and new. I laughed out loud and was moved to tears.  Rosenthal’s retelling is full of relevant meaning for any time; his perceptions of life and family are not only humorous but also touching, full of pain and surprise.”

—Ronald Alexander, author of The War on Dogs


“It’s high time we all took another romp through Never Never Land, and Chuck Rosenthal’s You Can Fly: A Sequel to the Peter Pan Tales is the perfect vehicle for just such an adventure.  Wiley and shrewd, Rosenthal flies us through a magical world of gypsies and pirates, princesses and reckless boys (the lost ones), a crocodile (with a good heart), mermaids—the whole shebang.  Simply put, You Can Fly is a blast to read—on your own or with a child near and dear to your heart.”

—Mona Houghton, author of  Frottage & Even As We Speak


“Everyone who has read the Peter Pan books or seen the movies will relish this imaginative visit to Neverland. Rosenthal goes after a complex and sometimes darker version of that enchanted island, with all of its familiar inhabitants, along with some new ones, and the result is a book richly steeped in magic, evil, humor, and the power of love.”

—Rod Moore, author of A History of Hands (Juniper Prize for Fiction)


“Leave it to Chuck Rosenthal to understand that when Peter Pan finally ages he’ll end up in Topanga Canyon — anyone who knows Southern California will feel a flash of recognition! Rosenthal’s electric-guitar prose holds true to his story’s title and lets you feel it too (because you know somewhere deep inside, where this writer reaches, it is true): You Can Fly. But we need to be reminded. Chuck Rosenthal is the story-teller to do just that.”

—Michael Ventura, author of Letters at 3 a.m.


“Chuck Rosenthal continues to reinvent the old story of the child who must step past the threshold into adulthood, where life will teach a lesson for wanting to find out something. You Can Fly should be included in the book bag of every high school student, borrowed from the bedside table of a friend’s hip mom, stolen from a friend who has loaned it, and serialized page by page in the Last Whole Earth Catalog. Its pages should be thickened by ocean fog, stained by suntan lotion. Made into a screenplay, it should be rolled up, tapped on a boardroom table for emphasis, to say that this is a story that will not grow up, that the offspring of this legend is the next big thing.”

—Kevin Cantwell, author of One of Those Russian Novels


“Accolades to Chuck Rosenthal for “You Can Fly, A Sequel to the Peter Pan Tales,” and as readers we fly.  We soar with Peter to “Never Never Land” where we retrieve our innocence in this enchanting, suspenseful, and wise fable.  The journey is brought to life by the extraordinary writing of Chuck Rosenthal who carries us there with his talent, humor and tenderness. It’s a seamless story told with an alluring and poetic narrative.  His writing lives up to all the magic in “Never Never Land.” Reading this novel was a sheer joy! Thank you Chuck Rosenthal!  I am young again.”

—Paul Lieber, author of Chemical Tendencies and producer and host of “Why Poetry?” on Pacifica Radio.


“Lovable, irreverent, touching, energetic, rich with hallucinatory weirdness and whimsy, and resonant with mythic undercurrents, Chuck Rosenthal’s You Can Fly is an exploration of adulthood as a mode of boredom, a mode of growing away from unmediated curiosity and joy into everydayness, a form of piracy, a giving-up on the idea that everything and nothing should be taken seriously, and only the impossible things are probable.”

—Lance Olsen, author of Dreamlives of Debris


“Chuck Rosenthal’s biting wit has always been the perfect foil for his wonder-like sense of children. You Can Fly is the update Peter Pan has been waiting for for a century.”

—Daren Wang, author of The Hidden Light of Northern Fires


“In a tale that is thrilling and charmingly tender, Rosenthal’s sequel brilliantly updates the Peter Pan tales with humor and terror and brutality and grace.  But above all he offers a profound and disturbing meditation on the congruence of innocence and evil and its seductive and destructive power.  A masterfully conceived tour d’force!”

—A.W. DeAnnuntis, author of The Final Death of Rock-and-Roll and Other Stories


“Chuck Rosenthal’s You Can Fly:  A Sequel to the Peter Pan Tales transports Peter Pan to Topanga Canyon in a family as strange and familiar as our own.  Peter Pan, the innocent boy who can fly, but cannot die or know love, reencounters Wendy, “the girl warrior,” Tink (Tinker Bell) and the characters from the original tale.  Into this brave new magical world, enters Queen Kali, the queen of the gypsies, the enemy of her ex, Captain Hook, and their daughter, Tiger Lily.  A singular battle rages in the uncanny borderlands between childhood and adult reality, innocence and evil, desire and death, the magical and the mundane.  And in Rosenthal’s brilliantly poetic rendering of Peter Pan’s fairy landscape, we are placed in an enchanting and horrific world, the world we now live in, and cannot escape.”

—Ramon Garcia, author of The Chronicles


“It turns out that Never Never Land does exist, and it is under siege in Chuck Rosenthal’s beguiling novel, You Can Fly: A Sequel to the Peter Pan Tales. ‘This is a real world of make believe,’ Wendy tells the timeless hero, who must save the Lost Boys from Captain Hook and his pirates, as well as imagination itself. Rosenthal is an inventive novelist, who has created a parable for the 21st century about the ‘eternal enmity’ between good and evil, wonder and greed–a book that will make you want to take wing and fly.”

—Christopher Merrill, author of Self-Portrait with Dogwood


“Dazzling, funny, chock-full of witty dialogue! Since his debut, Chuck Rosenthal has been interested in human difference & magic connections, adventure & misadventure, and ultimately theme of transcendence. His newest book, You Can Fly, isn’t just “kid stuff” since in Rosenthal’s hands the hard stuff of life, like a necessary war with Captain Hook’s brother & his giant rats, enrichens the adolescence-focused plot: Tink gets jealous, Wendy feels desire, and Tiger Lilly sees at least one key advantage of growing up, which is the prospect of eros and intimacy. What’s best of all here are the touches of emotional verisimilitude & realism, which any less brave author might have eschewed.  Get a copy and be uplifted!  This savvy and respectful Californization of J.M. Barrie’s famous character will please readers five to one hundred and five. “

—Thomas Jeffrey Vasseur, author of Discovering the World: Thirteen Stories & Touch the Earth: The Aftermath of the Vietnam War