January 20, 2016

Post #4214 – 20160120

I’ve been meaning to write you for a long time because some of your books have meant so much to me.

I think I had read “Lizard Music” in elementary school, having seen a clip of it on TV. (Possibly that show where they used to draw illustrations from the story while reading the text – do you know the one I mean?) and enjoyed it. It definitely stuck with me, because sometimes even now when I’m thinking about whether I should do something new or play it safe, I think to myself, “I don’t want to have grown up to be a pod person.”

In 1984 or so I noticed “The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death” in my junior high school library, and I remembered your name. You know how some people read “Catcher in the Rye” and their whole world view changes? Snarkout Boys was like that for me. Suddenly, being unique or strange wasn’t bad. Strange was exciting! It was the beginning of adventures! It meant thinking critically about the world around you! You have no idea what it meant to me to read your novel and find myself in other people who didn’t fit in and didn’t feel the need to do so.

I don’t know what your intention was; it seems unlikely you meant your crazy novels to be morality plays for all teenaged wierdos, but I really feel that I became more creative, more interesting, and a more tolerant person because of your work. Thank you so, so much!

Odd coincidence: as an adult, just after I moved into my apartment (in a weird bohemian neighborhood, of course) an art gallery opened up next door, and it was called The Orange Splot gallery! In addition to paintings, they sold copies of “The Big Orange Splot.” I talked to the owner about what a fan I was of your work, and he said your book about Mr. Plumbean had inspired him to open the gallery. So I know I’m not the only one you had an effect on! Sadly, the gallery is no longer in operation, but Seattle’s most famous wacky muralist (whose work sort of reminds me of your stories, come to think of it) got his start there, as did many local surrealist artists, so the gallery had a creative ripple effect of its own.

By the way, I scrolled down and read some of people’s notes and your replies. I was irrationally happy to know that there really was a Chicken Man. And also that you have done a podcast! I’m going to look for it right now.

Daniel replies:

""""I don't know what your intention was; it seems unlikely you meant your crazy novels to be morality plays for all teenaged wierdos...""""

My intention has always been more or less the same: I try to write a book for myself to read...not necessarily myself today, right now, but some earlier self, such as we all have, which continues to exist within my head.  It turns out that other selves, belonging to other people entirely, sometimes like the same book my own chosen self likes.  This would  explain the likes of you.  Naturally, I am gratified, and I like you because whatever self of yours that likes my book likes the same book some self of mine likes, so to that extent we are kindred selfs.  It is also cool about the Orange Splot Gallery, and the way we all swap influences.