Talk to DP Forum

Dan Blackley

Thank you

August 4, 2020

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,


I have enjoyed your books for years.  I was given Lizard Music when I was a boy by the children’s Librarian and have read your books ever since.  I wanted to say that I like your quirky sense of humor and your illustrations.  I am 53 and teach in public school.  Hope you and your family are doing well during the COVID19.


Dan Blackley

Daniel replies:

Thank you for taking the time to share words of appreciation with this author. I wasn't depressed or discouraged, or anything like that, but your post made me feel much better!

Martin Dial

A thank you

July 21, 2020

Lizard music was my favorite book in third grade, I read it many times and all of your other books that i could find. I am now 49, and my wife is going blind. Last night she was trying to find an audiobook, I spent about 30 minutes trying to think of a book for her. Then Lizard music popped into my brain, I was able to find it. It was the most fun we have had in awhile, you sir did such a wonderful job reading it. Thank you so much.


Daniel replies:

You don't say where you were able to find it, so I will mention that there are a number of free audiobooks for download on this very website. I hope there may be others you'll both enjoy.


Teacher fired in Education of Robert Nifkin?

July 21, 2020


Love your books. I recently read Education of Robert Nifkin, then convinced my mom to. We were both wondering about the same thing- towards the end it’s mentioned that a female teacher is fired. I don’t have the book in front of me, but the message is very much like “obviously she was fired, because of her actions from earlier”. Or something. We were wondering why she was fired. My mom thought there must have been a whole subplot where she seduced one of the characters or something, that got cut. Was this what happened? Or something wildly different?



Daniel replies:

 also get questions like, "Did the character in your book grow up, meet a nice person, get married, and have children, also how many?" It's a book. It's fun to imagine the characters are real people and have a life beyond what the book tells, but as the author I'm only responsible for what I wrote. Nothing got cut, it's all self-contained, and it's not for me to locate the sentence or phrase or reference or colloquialism, or pun, or description that you and your mom may have missed, or misunderstood, or just at that moment there was someone at the door, or the microwave went ding. However, I will generously tell you that the female teacher in the book was fired because her mother had insulted the principal when they were both children, growing up in Michigan, and the principal had nursed a grudge, however the fired teacher was offered a job in a first-class school in a very nice suburb, with a substantial increase in salary, rented a lovely little house, loved her new job, met a wonderful person and got married.

Evie T

Klugarsh Mind Control

July 16, 2020

Hi Mr. Pinkwater,

My dad and I are rereading Alan Mendelsohn to bring us some happiness during the pandemic. I just wanted to ask you, how did you come up with the details of how mind control would work?

Also, did you ever have a friend that inspired the character of Alan?

I love how you make us ‘see’ the story, not just hear it. I hope you and your family are safe and well.

Evie T.
Age 12
Rhinebeck, NY

Daniel replies:

I knew Kevin Klugarsch, inventor of Klugarsch Mind Control, and as a matter of fact I purchased all rights to the method. I am planning to create a Klugarsch Kit, with printed certificate for when you have finished learning mind control and are a qualified mind control expert, CDs, the patented mind-control meter, and an instructional comic  book. Look for it in your local drugstore.

I did have a friend who inspired the character of Alan Mendelsohn. Let me see, what was his name? I have it! It was Alan something. Something, something,!

Thanks for the compliment. If I am a good writer it is because I was a good reader. What is a good reader? Well, you for example.

I know Rhinebeck well. It is a nice town.

The Wisdoms

Map of The Pinkwater Universe

July 16, 2020


My whole family are huge fans – probably because The Last Guru wormed into my brain into the 80’s and never left – so I have been introducing Pinkwater brain worms to my own boys – 8 and 12 – who LOVE your work.

We’ve noticed certain characters and storylines span from book to book – obviously with the books like the Snarkout Boys, but less obviously how Big Audrey – the Cat-Whiskered Girl – is introduced in The Neddiad then goes on to her own title. Are there any other books that are interrelated but aren’t so obvious by the title?

Or, does there exist a map of The Pinkwater Universe? In my imagination it would be magic and would look a little like a combination of the map from Time Bandits and a corn muffin, but it could be as simple as a list of grouped interrelated characters and books.

Thanks so much for all of your books! Wonderful!

The Wisdoms of Pennsylvania

Daniel replies:

I'm starting to get tired of explaining to people that I have no idea what I'm doing, in writing and in ordinary life. It so happens that human evolution has progressed beyond the point at which there may have been other deranged authors, some of whom, presumably, who knew how to write. Nowadays, if your taste runs a certain way...I won't characterize, not wishing to insult're stuck with me, and for the better educated, that other writer, I forget the name. In reply to your question, I don't put those characters in the books, they just show up. Clever of you to notice.

[Webmaster's note -- you might want to check out the Hoboken Chicken Emergencyclopedia, which is somewhat akin to what you're looking for but sorely out of date!]

Charles May

SOBAOD Continuity Question

July 14, 2020

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I am currently reading your novel, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, with my 10 year old son.  He is autistic and we read together every night before bed to help him strengthen his verbal skills.  He reads to me and I help him if he has trouble vocalizing.  This book has been a great deal of fun  I usually read a few chapters ahead to check for names or words my son may find difficult.  Last night we read chapter 11 in which the boys meet Rat and her Uncle Flipping while attending the first night of the James Dean festival in which “every night the Snark theater was showing a James Dean film along with something else”.

In chapter 16 you have Winston and Walter going to the Snark the very next day to meet Rat and search for Uncle Flipping.  You state that the boys saw “Gidget Goes Hawaiian” and “Gaslight”.  Nether of these movies are James Dean films and would not be part of the James Dean festival.  Ordinarily I would not care about such a continuity error; however my son, like many people on the autism spectrum, tend to get fixated on thing rather easily.  Do you have an explanation you would like me to tell my son or do you mind if I do with the everyone makes mistakes stand by?

For the record he is very much enjoying the novel.

Hope all is well with you.

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond (if you chose so to do).


Charles H. May

Chicago, IL


Daniel replies:

It's quite simple. James Dean, before becoming a famous actor had a small uncredited part as an extra in Gidget Goes Hawaiian. Practically no one knows this, but the person who schedules the films for the Snark Theater has an encyclopedic knowledge of film lore, and thus included the film just to enjoy partially informed people such as yourself saying, "But why is this movie in the middle of a James Dean festival?" whereupon the scheduler, who is also the owner of the theater, and the brother of the owner of the popcorn company that supplies the lobby snack bar, can explain that Dean appears for a total of 15 seconds in the movie.


A questions needs a title? come on… Don’t have one anyhow. Question or title.

July 14, 2020

Hey Congratulations! How amazing.  We have both come a long way… and still doing it.

Love you bro. Think about you often. Stay on top of it.  Jill too.  May be in touch… if the rain stops and the creek don’t run dry, and I could use more salami.

Daniel replies:

I am pretty sure this is from my fake brother and TV character Fabius Otto. Or was that me? Well, this post couldn't be from me or I'd remember writing it. Hey, Fabe! What do you hear from Charlie Horseback?

St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church

Permission to use in worship

July 11, 2020


I’m communicating to you on behalf of the ministry team at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church in Vancouver, Canada. Our children and family minister is wanting to use “The Big Orange Splot” during an online worship service that is live streamed then uploaded onto youtube. Due to these interesting times of COVID, we have had to get creative in how we worship and create community, so we are hoping we can share your lovely story to do exactly that.

blessings to you.

Daniel replies:

Of course, you may use it. I don't suppose I need to stipulate that you may not charge to view, sell copies, or otherwise profit from use of the material. I am pleased that you want to use a story of mine in a worship service, of all things, but I hold the opinion that the author of a piece is often the last one to have an idea what it may mean, so I am sure your interpretation is the right one.

Sawyer Harrington-Verb

Can I set your story to music?

July 6, 2020


My name Is Sawyer Harrington-Verb, and I am a young composer who recently graduated from the Hartt School in West Hartford this past spring. I am currently planning what kinds of projects I want to pursue during the summer, and me and several vocalist friends discussed doing a short-form opera recording project possibly based on a children’s story.

I was thinking back to stories that might be appropriate, and I immediately thought of your story “The Hare and the Pineapple”. I was actually one of the students who took the New York State test that the story was included in. I think it would be a wonderful short opera and absolutely wonderful to write and record both because of the personal connection I have with this story and its lighthearted and witty nature. I don’t intend to treat the opera as a parody of the story itself but as a genuine retelling of a truly funny story that has managed to stick with me throughout my life.

I’d love to hear back from you, and if you would be able to grant me permission to set your story and your words to music, I would be deeply appreciative!

Thank you and sincerely,

Sawyer Harrington-Verb



Daniel replies:

Sure, go ahead, only you are not allowed to sell copies, charge for admission, or profit in any way from the work, without first making formal arrangements with my representative.

Victor J. Ortiz

Questions from a Student Writing a Flattering Paper on You

June 26, 2020

Hello Mr. Pinkwater! I’m a student of Old and Rare Poulty Books writing a paper where I revisit a novel that influenced me as a kid. I, of course, picked Lizard Music.

If you don’t mind, here are a few questions that would help me out:

Following the references to M.C. Escher and Rene Daumal, was L.M. written with traditional surrealistic intent? (As far as surrealism can be traditional)

If so, what is your interpretation of the absurd, the nonsensical, the surreal, and how that fits with L.M.?

What are your thoughts on searching for meaning in texts, particularly in your texts? Following that line of thought, who could best interpret the text, the intended younger audience, or the adult who re-discovers it years later?

Thank you!



Daniel replies:

**In general, when writing novels, I insert references to whatever I happen to be thinking about, read at bedtime the night before, or possibly had for breakfast. This is just an exercise to keep the covers of the finished book apart, it has no particular meaning. I don't remember at all, but possibly I had read an article about surrealism, or maybe was thinking about my youth in Chicago, where everyone is a surrealist.**
If so, what is your interpretation of the absurd, the nonsensical, the surreal, and how that fits with L.M.?

**I do not interpret, I just write stuff down. I might have written that I tell a story, but as a discerning reader you will have noticed there is practically no story or plot in books of mine.**
What are your thoughts on searching for meaning in texts, particularly in your texts? Following that line of thought, who could best interpret the text, the intended younger audience, or the adult who re-discovers it years later?

**You can anticipate what I'm going to reply, can't you? Searching for meaning in texts, particularly texts that are not effectively labeled, "Contains Meaning, Search Here," and most particularly texts of mine, is apt to give rise to inventions arising in the searcher's mind. Better to write one's own text to begin with.**
Thank you!

**Thank YOU!**

Mrs. Galt


June 20, 2020

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I believe some explanation is in order. You seemed concerned the last time you answered your questions that I would want to murder newspaper columnists working in South America. This is not the case. I’m fine with columnists as long as they aren’t flamboyant about it. What I’m not fine with is Comminists.

When I was young, I went on a trip to Peru, presumably as an exchange student helping with the avocado harvest. However, I was really sent by the CIA on a mission to assassinate those who they feared were planning a Comminist uprising to take over Peru and possibly Bolivia. This is where I met my future husband, Theobald.

Unfortunately, it turned out the CIA goofed, and the uprising occurred in Cuba instead. But what did I care? I was young and in love.

You have, however, still left the question of whether my boy Walter is palling about with zombies. This is an issue near and dear to my heart. You see, zombies are formed from otherwise sane citizens eating Japanese or Canadian tuna, which allows them to be controlled by the Comminists. Hopefully this is not the case.


Mrs. Galt.

Daniel replies:

Oh! I am so sorry! It's old age, and failing eyesight. So, I misread your post, and thought you were referring to columnists, when it was obviously commentators. I used to be a commentator myself, although I always thought I was an uncommon tator. Your old-fashioned preoccupation with assassination and government-sponsored evil-doings is charming and does you credit. I hear Walter is operating a popular bagel stand in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, entirely on the up-and-up and not a front for anything in an area where zombies are uncommon.


Russ and Daughters? :)

June 17, 2020

I seem to recall you mentioning Russ and Daughters. What did you like to order there?

Daniel replies:

Your seeming recollection must be about someone else. I have seen, and probably been inside Russ and Daughters once or twice, and I suppose I may have ordered lox or whatever it was they sold, but I didn't spend tons of time on the lower east side, and practically none after the mid-60s. There was a quite good bagel works and next to it an appetizing store, as such places dealing in smoked fish and the like were called, in Great Neck where my wife's parents lived, and we had many Sunday brunches.

Madison Trevino

A first edition Lizard Music?!

June 13, 2020


So when I was in middle school I read Lizard Music probably around 100 times. It was my absolute favourite book of all time. Recently, I remember the book and have been on the hunt for a first edition copy of it. The one with a pink cover and the lizards stacked on top of each other. I cannot seem to find a copy anywhere. Any suggestions?




Daniel replies:

Oh, there are copies around. You'll come across one at just the perfect time.

G. Lucertia

Zombie Possibilities

June 13, 2020

Dear Daniel,

I remembered some rumors that a third Snarkout book entitled I Snarked With A Zombie had been written, but, like so many other works of genius, not published. What would this book have entailed? Would Scott Feldman have been this titular zombie after establishing himself as a somewhat skeevy Zeppo to Rat’s Groucho, Winston’s Harpo, and Walter’s Chico? What befell poor Uncle Flipping?

Another query related to Baconburg Horror: Did Walter’s mother go to Peru not to pick avocados, but to kill some South American Comminists?

Daniel replies:

Why would anyone, even a fictional character, want to kill South American columnists? 

Patrick Clark

Cigars and Beer… oh my.

June 10, 2020

Hi Mr Pinkwater,

I have been a huge fan of your books since my first purchase of The Snarkout Boys and the Avacado of Death at Hodge Podge books on Lark St in Albany in the 1980s.

Of course, as a kid, I found the scenes of cigar smoking and beer drinking to be delightful and funny. These days, however, it occurs to be that “helicopter parents” might see such scenes in a very different light.

So, my question(s): Have you found that your 70s/ 80s books have been interpreted differently by parents of millennials or so-called Gen-Z-ers? Have you gotten any pushback over Leonard and Alan’s smoking, or Walter, Winston and Rat’s underage drinking?

Thanks so much for your nerd-affirming books!!



Daniel replies:

I have never gotten pushback of any kind, and if I did I would pay no attention to it. Of more interest to me are places like Hodge Podge Books on Lark Street in Albany, which I visited a number pf times, and it's affable proprietor, Frank Hodge. At the time I thought how pleasant it must have been to have been a kid customer, which appears to have been your experience. 

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