Janson Michael Steffan

December 5, 2004

Post #1796 – 20041205

Dear Daniel Manus Pinkwater, (I love full names)

Oh my most merciful God, thank you so very much for having brought Daniel Pinkwater into this earth and through so many very interesting adventures.

I first read “Alan Mendelson” when I was in 4th grade. It was a charming book, but I thought nothing of it. I continued onto Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, as well as the “Lord of the Rings” and such. Now, 18 years later, I returned to my childhood library and found the book still sitting exactly in the place I had left it (in the sci-fi/fantasy section, out of order, with my old bookmark in the pages). Does that mean that no one has had the privelage of reading it in all that time? What a sin! I raced home to scour the internet for more of your works. I found the 4 and 5 novels, which I immediately ordered and quickly digested. My search continues for more…

Sometimes, I hope that my as-of-yet unborn son has a torturous life and turns out just like you, Mr. Pinkwater. I tell my soon-to-be wife that the boy will not be allowed to read anything but your books. I am slowly amassing a growing collection. It would be easier if 85% of the stuff was still in print. However, I’m pleased as punch to find it used for a very small portion of the original cover price.

To date, I’ve read over 28 of your books and I hope to read the rest. Now that I have a son on the way, I can easily justify buying the ones for ever younger readers.

One big comment — reading “The Afterlife Diet”, I noticed that it was most likely written for a predominantly adult audience. That was my first venture away from your “teen/young adult” line of literature. I recalled you mentioning that you only put cursing in a book when it was called for by the plot, characters, etc. It was a riot! I laughed myself silly. I read and read, laughing… becoming weary at where this bouncing book was going. By the time I reached the last page, I was almost ready to give up. However, when I read the very last line, I laughed for days. You are a brilliant genuis.

I’ve also read your “Fish Whistle” and “Chicago Days/Hobokan Nights”. I find bits and pieces of characters and situations from your novels strewn about in the stories. It’s hard to fathom that things once only believed to be fiction were actually portions of your life!

Probably my biggest joy in your books is the fact that characters pop up out of nowhere in other books. The Chicken Man (aka, well you know the thousand other names) appears left and right, other than just in “Lizard Music”. It just makes me happy to be reading and discover that you’ve brought a character from a completely unrelated book into the story, even if only for a brief moment and in an assinine way.

Through reading your many novels and essays, I really feel like I know you and have a firm understanding of your personality. I also share your love for canines. Samoyed lover, myself. And surprisingly enough, I’ve NEVER listened to you on NPR.

Your books find a place in me that was forgotten for a long time. My parents kept slapping me into growing up. Situations in life have “gently” convinced me to grow up. But when I read your books, I instantly identify with the main character. Usually, it is some outcast kid with a vivid imagination and, while not utterly unhappy, still has some creative outlet and lives a semi-normal life. That was me in a nutshell, the me I try to hide from. Your books allow me to enjoy and embrace that child. That downtrodden kid who got beat up so very many times all throughout school. The one with so many knives in his back, there isn’t room for another one. That kid who (yes) built models (plastic and plain, but not snap-tite). That boy who spent hours writing stories, painting pictures, and writing songs. I thank you for all that you’ve done for me. This little silly e-mail cannot express it fully.

Do I really have any questions for you? Hmm. I’m starting on “Java Jack” and I’m wondering how that dual authorship came about.

My best wishes for you, sir, in your continued life and writings. My compliments on your long-standing marriage. As an artist of many medias myself, I am extremely inspired by all of your work and respect every ounce of it. Never stop.


Janson Michael Steffan

P.S. You may post my information if you’d like. Any friend of Daniel Pinkwater is a friend of mine. However, I will keep locking my doors and screening my calls.

P.P.S. I have an Aunt of 54 years old who is also a writer with a bit of that “Pinkwater” wit and sarcasm. She wrote for Cosmo in the ’80s and has since done work for Fox television, NPR, and various local publications. She is also hovering around the 300-pound zone. Any ideas on how I can hook her up with something? Can I send you some of her writing samples? Her professional resume?

P.P.P.S. I am a composer, performer, engineer, producer, and recording studio owner. If they EVER make a movie about Alan Mendelson, PLEASE allow me the privelage of presenting you with some audio material to use.

Daniel replies:

Finally! Someone who read The Afterlife Diet all the way to the end! You may be the only one. Java Jack isn't so much co-authored as super-edited by me. It's fun to think of people having fun with stuff I wrote. Keep reading. I will keep writing.