Talk to DP Forum

Michael J Barnett

Post #593 – 19970101

January 1, 1997

Dear Mr Pinkwater,

It is hard for me to write this but I truly wish you had been born and bred southern. Your outlook on the slight unpleasantness of the 1860’s as a result of the Northern invasion of the fair south would be delightful.

Seriously, I enjoy your contributions to NPR and your writings. Thank you– you would have made a great southerner ( a fairly delightful compliment from a Tarheel ).

Yours truly,

Michael J Barnett

Daniel replies:

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, sir. Spoke with a drawl, and used to stand to attention when Dixie was played. However, I was taken to Chicago when still a child, and rehabilitated. My comments on the Woah are encapsulated in the forthcoming novel, ""The Education of Robert Nifkin,"" Farrar Straus and Giroux, scheduled for spring of '98. I won't quote myself out of context, but I will tell you that my remarks about General Lee are unlike any you will have read or heard.


Post #643 – 19970101

January 1, 1997

In my youth, I was a graduate student in literature, and assumed that my path in life would be profoundly influenced by Henry James, Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman, and Herman Melville. And others.

So now I am a whole lot older. My 13 year old son spends hours writing Kevin Shapiro stories and my cat is named Borgel, causing a rift in our previously warm relationship with the veterinarian. I just thought you should know.

With affection, JR and family

Daniel replies:

Borgel is a traditional name for cats, like Puss, Tom, Moggy, and Shlomo or Shloime. I submit it has nothing to do with me, or my work. Probably your kid is heavy into Joseph Conrad, and you do him an injustice.

Ian Stoba

Post #530 – 19970101

January 1, 1997

I’m one of the people who runs the Hoboken Chicken Emergencyclopedia and I thought you might like to know that the site has been getting a lot of traffic from employees of the federal government over the last few days. In the last two days alone, there have been visits from the EPA, the Patent and Trademark Office, the Bureau of Land Management, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and, (most ominously) the Navy’s Space and Sea Warfare Systems Command.

I don’t get it. Is there something subversive in your books (alien invasion, plastic fish, Walter Cronkite) that it would attract attention from all of these authority figures? Or is it just that, now the Cold War has defrosted itself, the guys hunched over the screens in the war room have the time to diddle on the web and look up pages devoted to their favorite nuclear-holocost-is-inevitable predicting author?

Daniel replies:

Are you kidding? Do you really not know why the goverment types are hitting your site? They're backroom boys. They think it's code. Is it? I thought it was.

Carol Morrow

Post #551 – 19970101

January 1, 1997

Dear Mr. Pinkwater — I heard you talking on NPR the other day about your new web page, and logged on the first chance that i got — how wonderful — of course i love listening to you on NPR, but i first became a fan of yours when i read ‘the big orange splot’ to my daughter about 10 years ago — it remains one of my most all-time favorite books — my husband and i (both anthropologists) are in the process of planning to take off the roof of our old 1940’s bungalow in our cosy little neighborhood of tiny homes — and having a grand second story built on top — sometimes our ideas seem a bit radical for our street — but i always have in the back of my mind — ‘i am my house and my house is me — maybe i’ll check into some frangipani for the backyard

Daniel replies:

Anthropologists, remind me of the time I was living in an African village, and there was an anthropologist studying the tribe. She didn't know how to ask questions without prompting a specific answer. She asked a bunch of young men, ""You never lived in thatched huts, did you? They were gone in your grandfathers' time, right?"" Naturally, they told her they never had. Then when she left they began talking about how they'd steal bits of kindling from the roof, and their mothers would holler at them. ""So you all lived in thatched huts,"" I said. ""Why did you tell the anthropologist you never did?"" ""Well, what's the difference?"" they said. ""Besides she wants to think of us as modern people--so why disappoint her?"" I think she wrote a book about the tribe. Tricky business, anthropology.


Post #608 – 19970101

January 1, 1997

Hi, Mr. Pinkwater. Are those Yeti still eating your crayons? I need to say thanks for the reply. Your answers earned me an “A” in my Art Institute classs! Forever grateful, E.S.

Daniel replies:

Answers which earn A's are always available at this site at competitive prices. Ask about specials on term papers and Master's theses.

Bob Nagel

Post #697 – 19970101

January 1, 1997

You spoke on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday (the April 4 show) on a couple of new poetry books for children. I thought they were great, so of course I cannot find the titles I wrote down. Could I get those titles again? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Daniel replies:

Answer to your query a few down. Thanks for listening.

William Carmichael

Post #647 – 19970101

January 1, 1997

Mr. Pinkwater-

This message, long overdue, is prompted by my recent re-discovery of your work while browsing at a local bookstore. They had copies of “Lizard Music”, “The Blue Moose”, and “Young Adult”. I was thrilled, because I’d come to believe that I had imagined the whole thing about the lizards named Reynold.

I read LM as a third grader, at the behest of a desparate public school librarian who was running out of new things to recommend for me to read. I’d been through Dr. Seuss long before that, and Lloyd Alexander’s fantasy novels, and the Doctor Doolittle books, and so on…so I had already developed a mild taste for the strange. Which was too bad for the librarian, a kindly woman without a non-linear bone in her body. She gave me “Lizard Music” without (I am sure) having read it herself, just to fend me off for another week, and I loved it. It was my first encounter with a deliberately “odd” piece of art. Now, at twenty-eight, I listen mostly to music that my live-in girlfriend doesn’t understand, and enjoy movies that most people here in Omaha have never heard of. But I LIKE it that way. Thank you so much.

Daniel replies:

Another life ruined. Your sarcastic thanks sting like a whip. But isn't it really the librarian's fault? I can't help what I write. And I have to sell the stuff to publishers, because I'm not qualified for any honest work. For one thing, I'm too fat to be on my feet in Burger King all day. Besides, I present an unsanitary appearance, not suitable to a place where food is served. But I decry the practice of giving my books to young people. Look what can happen. Look at you. Your poor girlfriend! It breaks my

Jean-David Beyer

Post #549 – 19970101

January 1, 1997

I first heard of you late at night on NYC Pacifica station WBAI. I think Bill Watson was the host and you read the entire “Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars” Perhaps it took more than one night. I could not find it anywhere, but I found the publisher in “Books in Print” and got a copy direct. I have been prosyletizing you since then, too successfully. A friend wants a copy and I understand none are available. Sigh. I ordered “5 Novels” to get an extra copy. Then you read “Lizard Music” on the same show, but it was much easier to get. I have just ordered a few more of your books from Amazon Books.

Thank you for writing them. (I am physically older than you, but I hope about the same spiritual age.)

Daniel replies:

Another case of tricks of auditory memory. It was Watson himself who read those books, not me. I did write them though. Why do you sigh? 5 Novels not only has A.Mendelsohn, but four other books--and it's a paperback. You can easily remove the back cover, slice off the remaining four, then reattach the back cover, change the title with a magic marker--and presto! A copy of your favorite book, and something to start the fire with come chilly nights.

Anne Newton

Post #497 – 19970101

January 1, 1997

Mr. P did you narrate the movie “Christmas Story?” I enjoy your commentaries on NPR immensely and think I recognize your wonderful voice!!

Daniel replies:

Anne Newton -- Such a compliment! That's Jean Shepherd, a radio great, who wrote and produced the movie. He comes from the greater Chicago area, as I do--so the accent may be similar, and the rich baritone may be the result of breathing the pure air of the stockyards and the steel mills. When I was growing up in Chicago, he was more or less a legend--we couldn't hear him on the radio, (he broadcasted on WOR in NY), but when I moved east, I used to listen to him. This guy could extemporize a complete, and pretty good, short story, live in 45 minutes, five nights a week! I wish he hadn't quit doing radio. It might have gotten too small for him. (It's not too small for me, though. Stand by, all for an interesting announcement on that very topic, soon).

Andrew Livingston

Post #717 – 19970101

January 1, 1997

Mr. Pinkwater,

I just read the Magic Goose. It is the best book I ever read. You are a really funny guy. Your writing is good for kids. What other books like the Magic Goose have you written? My older brother likes you too and is reading 5 Novels.

Andrew Livingston

Grade 2

Daniel replies:

Andrew, I have written around 70 books more or less like The Magic Goose. Maybe more. I don't know. I never count. Someone wrote somewhere that I had written 70 books, so that is the number I use. Anyway, there are lots of them out there--maybe you will find one or two. I hope you do.

Barry K.

Post #712 – 19970101

January 1, 1997

“Nov shmoz ka pop?” (Note spelling) was the catch phrase of a little hitchhiker who appeared transitorily in a by-strip (’30s to ’50s) to Ahearn’s “Our Boarding House.” I have just the vaguest childhood memories of this, but my Dad recalls it clearly. I had the only “Nov shmoz ka pop?” sweatshirt in the Greater Dallas Area for a brief period in the early ’60s (but that’s another story.

Daniel replies:

And your point is?


Post #694 – 19970101

January 1, 1997

Do you want to hear of a really good town to write about? Urbandale, Iowa. It’s a suburb of Des Moines, in which I lived before moving to Snellville. In it, the police officer who taught the drug abuse class was recently exposed as a crack dealer; my seventh grade teacher (devout Catholic and also sex-ed teacher) turned out to be sleeping with one of the guys in the class. And then my eight grade trecher, whom we always said smelled of alcohol, recently was fired after coming to school durnk adn slapping a kid. All this in addition to the classic problems within the boy scouts, the hooker who lived across the street from (the cops were there all the time, giving some genuine entertainment to the whole neighborhood), etc. It’s a boring little midwestern town, outwardly quite a nice little centralized place, where something exciting is always being exposed!

Daniel replies:

And was there any reason you had to move to Snellville?


Post #700 – 19970101

January 1, 1997

Hello DP

First of all, let me say that I am a huge fan and have been for years. I have a question for you:

Did you ever think of making “Young Adult Novel” into “Young Adult Movie?” I am an independant public cable tv producer and I think you should let me make it. It would have a kind of twisted afterschool special kind of feel. Boy would it be fun…but I hate to get sued. In fact, I think many of your books have a cinematic feel.

Worth a try!!

Biz the Clown

Daniel replies:

And sue you I would, be sure of it. However, I am open to offers, including money, from legitimate producers, (if that's not a contradiction in terms).

Daniel Wabyick

Post #626 – 19970101

January 1, 1997


This is in response to a recent comment:

“Your wife’s Jewish meatballs are exactly like my mother’s Swedish meatballs.” Maybe not a good example, since Swedes are so similar to Jews.

As a Jew living in Sweden, I would have to refute the point that Jews and Swedes share much in common, except perhaps the meatballs themselves. In fact, my family used to serve Swedish meatballs during the high holidays, and they were quite close to the real thing. (a tradition is a tradition) In any case, if you know of any other similarities between the blond giants of the north and the Jews, I would be eager to hear them. Oh yeah, any news on a release date for the collection?



Daniel replies:

And a meatball is a meatball. I stick to my contention that, the obvious apart, people are pretty much people, whatever their background--and while there may be some syntactical resonances of yiddishkeit in work of mine, it is neither my intention, or fact, that I am depicting a Jewish universe. I take exception to being characterized as a ""Jewish writer,"" which some people, usually Jews, seem to want me to be. I am an American writer, whose background happens to be Jewish, and since some, but by no means all, of my experience includes that, there will naturally be some reflection of it in the work. The supposition that I am characterizing Jewish life or Jewish people, as put forth here by sons of Benton Harbor, strikes me as a case of projection. For one thing, I don't know that there are stereotypic Jewish characteristics. Jews in Turkey or Yemen may have a completely different style from Jews in Italy, or Michigan or Mexico, as might Christians in those places.

DANIEL PINKWATER, 5 NOVELS is scheduled for fall. I have seen proofs of the introduction by Jules Feiffer, and the comments from readers. Those selected will receive their free copies, the discount certificates for pizza, and the free vacation in Benton Harbor, as promised by Wes Adams. You, Daniel Wabyick, may be one of the lucky selectees. I feel I should not make any announcement at this time.

Strawberry Whine

Post #537 – 19970101

January 1, 1997

Dear, dear, dear Mr. Pinkwater,

What an amazing rush to find your web-site! And you even want to hear from the freaks who love you so……

My neighbor and partner in crime talked me into buying a modem and getting on the internet, and whan all was up and running, he asked me for a title to do a search on. I picked you, thinking I was very clever and obsure, because the net could never be so hip. Thank you for being so modern as to prove me mistaken.

I plan on joining to crusade to have have another 5 novels collection put together (one that includes Baconburg, one of my all-time favorites). I must ask you if you’ve ever been to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I lived in that very surreal town for the past six years, and there is something distinctly Pinkwater-ish (or Daniel-ish, if you prefer) about the place. I think I saw the Chicken Man man there once in a small dingy bar. He was balancing a pitcher of beer, on a chair, on a pool cue, on his chin. He had on a hat that he refused to remove, even after many thrilled spectators bought many beers for him.

If you could respond to my note, it would be a thrill for me.

Peace and Papoosas,

Strawberry Whine

Daniel replies:

Am I going to have the strength not to repeat the Groucho Marx line about Tuscaloosa? No. I think this is more or less how it goes: ""I once shot an elephant in my pajama. What he was doing in my pajamas I'll never know. I usually hunt elephants in Alabama...because, in Alabama the Tuscaloosa."" You never dreamed when you did the web-search on my name that you'd wind up prompting me to disgrace myself, did you? Well, thank you for being my reader and everything. I have had other reports of the Chicken Man in real life.

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