Talk to DP Forum

Weston

Memoirs, remembrances

August 29, 2018

My wife and I have avidly read and enjoyed both Chicago Days / Hoboken Nights as well as Fish Whistle. I wonder if you have considered making any further forays into autobiography? I find that these books offer glimpses into a kind of 20th century bohemianism that is not often explored, or chronicled with such skill. It’s a real service to literature!

(For instance, the hints about the”zen cult” with which you were briefly associated are really fascinating.) Anyway, thanks for the good work.

Best, 

Weston

Daniel replies:

Those two books contain whatever number of essays from among 600 to 700 pieces that were broadcast on NPR, and are mostly lost now. I'm not bored with my life, but I am a little bored with my own life story. I'm casting around now, trying to decide what book I want to write next. For the next couple of months, I'm engaged in a project having nothing directly to do with writing, after which I hope I will have decided. Stick around, I usually come up with something.

Bryan Wilson (no, not that one, despite what my e-mail address might suggest)

Trying to remember a title

August 18, 2018

Mr Pinkwater,

  First of all, thank you for the years (<<cough>> decades! <<cough>>) of reading enjoyment.  My first encounter with your books was Alan Mendelsohn in about 1981 or so, but thankfully my school had any number of your books available for me to read, and I read them I did!

  Therein lies my problem, and I will get straight to my question: is it Yobgorgle?

  You see, I read a book of yours during that time that I would love to read again, but I cannot remember which one it is.  I remember very little about it actually, except that it was funny (not much of a clue, I know).  I also remember this exchange between two characters on a fast-moving boat of some sort:

  Character 1:  “It’s a beach!”  (I think the character says ‘beach’, but it could be another word)

  Character 2:  “It’s a wall!”  (I know this character says ‘wall’)

  Character 1:  “It’s a beach AND a wall!”

  I thought perhaps this might be Lizard Music, but after purchasing and re-reading Lizard Music, I found I was wrong but had a great time doing it.  The only other title I think it could be is Yobgorgle, which I have yet to find (not that I’ve looked hard); is it indeed Yobgorgle?  I see from the Amazon blurb that a particular Great Lake is involved, and there is a pig on the cover, which seems familiar.

  I also feel like the book I am thinking of was somewhat like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but again I can’t remember the title of the book, so what do I know?

  Anyway, to reminisce!  After a too-long hiatus away, I took my daughters to our local public library.  None of my beloved hellspawn have turned out to be readers, but I haven’t given up hope.  This has been a few years ago now, but while they looked about I walked the rows of shelves.  I came across the P’s, mopped them up, and took a look for your books.  I discovered among them the Neddiad and was as delighted by Ned as I was by Alan in 1981.

  Normally, this nearly middle aged fellow doesn’t need a reason to act with childish delight, but picking up your books again has given me one!

Thank you!  And thank you for any help you can provide about the mis-remembered book!

Bryan L Wilson, CMfgT, Esq.  🙂

Daniel replies:

Yes, it's YOBGORGLE, MYSTERY MONSTER OF LAKE ONTARIO, and your fragmented recollections are all correct. It's interesting to see how a book I apparently wrote turns into a specific kind of mental compost in the memory of one reader. You actually have a more detailed ready recollection than I do, although I can dredge up the whole thing by making an effort. It's out of print, like most of my stuff, but copies turn up. Possibly best bet is the collection FOUR FANTASTIC NOVELS in which it is included. Thanks for your kind words, and best of luck civilizing your children.

Morgan Elliot

Request in regards to the name Laughing Alligator

August 15, 2018

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I am a an aspiring custom bike maker and huge fan of your writing. The time a few years ago in high school when I cut up my bmx bike and welded it back together to form a wacky-looking monstrosity happened to coincide with another read through of Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars.

There came a wave of inspiration that told me I wanted to make the wildest customs under the name Laughing Alligator. I want to make bikes that probably came from the 6th plane of Venus.

For my senior project in high school I made my first scratch-build custom bike, and after a brief hiatus while at college, I am getting back to creating – my next project hopefully to be done by next month. And so I ask if I may put the name Laughing Alligator on my customs in honor of your brilliant book and the ancient Order of the Laughing Alligator. If you like the idea I could even make an extra spicy bike to call Green Death.

With my customs I seek to convey a sense of surprise and wonder similar to that which your books have given me, and I hope to have your blessing to use the Laughing Alligator name. Maybe someday Clarence Yojimbo will borrow some money and buy from me a bike just crazy enough to bring back to Venus…

Regards,

Morgan Tyler Elliot

Daniel replies:

How nice of you to ask! Obviously you don't need my permission to use the words, "Laughing Alligator," but I am honored, heartily endorse the idea, and wish you great success with your creative, artistic engineering endeavor. This goes for "Green Death" as well, and any other adaptations of phrases, concepts, and images that strike your fancy. I'm interested in seeing a picture of your work if you wish to share one.

Frank from Durham, NC

How to get Coaching

August 15, 2018

Hello Mr. Pinkwater.  

I have been reading a book by a friend of yours, Bailey White, Mama Makes Her Mind Up.  I am trying to get some ideas on exactly what my story is, and how to get some “more than armature” coaching.  I am writing about a childhood adventure, and, just like Ms. White, I want my southern existence to shine.  I believe my account may enter the realm of a narrative essay more than a short story.  It is some over three thousand words, and I take the liberty to digress from the theme to explain things.   Ms. White’s short stories are “crisp” reads to me, and it seems as though just as I am getting into the story, the story is over.  Can you please tell me what my story may be just from what I have told you?  And, do you have any suggestions about how I can get some good help looking at the story and critiquing?  I am born and raised southern, Piedmonth, NC.  I know what I want my story to say, and I know how I want it to sound.  I’m concerned about structure, moving away from and back to the theme, how to weed out unnecessary dead wood.   Many thanks in advance. 

Daniel replies:

You are asking the wrong person. I have always tried to approach writing as an amateur, even though I've made my living doing it. What I do, when possible, is write a story for myself, one I want to read. I don't think about theory. I don't know, but I assume Ms. White does something similar. You could ask her.

Alyssa Chandler

What type of books would you sugusest to little kids

August 7, 2018

 Do you have any books little kids?

Daniel replies:

Lots of them. Check your local public library, bookstore, or this website to see titles. Thanks for asking.

Jim Huffman

Chicken Man & Others Part 2

August 7, 2018

Dear
Mr Pinkwater

Chicken
Man & Others Part 2

08/05/2018

Thank
you for the nice accolades, now with this encouragement, I shall add
to my last overly long post.

Part
2: This neighborhood was the epitome of racial & religious
harmony. I never knew what bigotry was until I went or visited or
read about other neighborhoods & places. I never heard any slurs
directed to or about others, I had no idea that there were any
“others”.

Nettlehorst
grade school students were mostly Jewish 80%, 20% others. Nearly all
the teachers were Jewish. On Jewish holidays, non-Jewish sub teachers
were there with aprox 10-kids in each class. Our classes had aprox
50-kids each with one-teacher. Of everyone I knew in class afterwards
to this day, they were all successful. Lawyers, doctors, accountants,
professors, business, etc. One became the Concert Master of the Lyric
Opera’s Orchestra. Smaller classrooms?

Mt
Carmel was 90% Catholic & 10% others. Smaller than Nettlehorst,
about 50% the size.

There
were a few Blacks in Nettlehorst, we refered to them as Colored or
Negro, so as not to offend them. Never ever heard the word “nigger”
used. And Oriental people also lived in the neighborhood, as well as
Spanish speakers. Never heard kike, yid, dirty jew, spic, slant eyes
etc. Did sometimes hear goyim (or chicsa) used in a whisper, but
never in a bad way.

The
neighborhood was very cosmopolitan, mixed Jewish & Christian, and
was also considered a Swedish Lutheran neighborhood, but only aprox
10%, some of the Swede names I knew were Nelson, Larson, Swanson,
Hanson, Lindson. There were many churches as well as many Synagogs. A
Jewish yeshiva type school, where my jewish fiends went after school
to prepare for their Bar Mitzva, I was often invited inside &
sat with them while they studied, the Rabbi was very nice to me &
showed me what & why they were learning & answer my
questions.

Was
also often invited to attend services in other churches which I did
as a social cause, my family never attended religeous services. I had
no idea that I was not Jewish or other. I just thought that people
just wandered into these places because they looked better than the
others? I tried to figure out if they all had differing looks, did
catholics have a different look than a protestant or a jew?

There
were other stores that I forgot to mention in my last rant. Duke The
Florist on the NW & then NE corner of Belmont & Broadway then
out of business. Walgreens SE corner, Sams barber shop on Belmont
various locations. Scotts Dime store Broadway. A small school &
notions store on south side of Aldine just west of the school. The
Library on Belmont next to the Nuns home. A Lutherine church across.

Enough
for now, write if you have questions & don’t hang by your thumbs.

Jim
Huffman, ex-goyim.

Daniel replies:

Sounds familiar and about right to me, although I never thought the Nettelhorst elementary school was mostly Jewish...I remember being fascinated by the Christian traditions I encountered there. But I completely agree about the tolerance in the neighborhood. Never heard an expression of hate, and I can add that when I went to Lake View high school in the 50s, the first openly gay person I ever met ran for student council, and I never heard a single remark at his expense. And for those reading this, we should make clear that this was a working/middle class neighborhood, we weren't the children of professors, or college graduates for the most part. I think the natural untampered-with tendency of people is to live in that kind of harmony.

Phil from Cincinnati

Sight Seeing advice

July 7, 2018

Hi! My family and I are huge fans of your books. My favorite is Alan Mendelsohn, my wife’s is Bad Bear Detectives, my daughter’s is Wuggie Norple, and my son’s is Irving and Muktuk: Two Bad Bears.

We will be passing through the Hudson Valley on the weekend of July 27th. Are there any monuments or museums dedicated to the Pinkwaters that we can view? Are the Pinkwaters greeting their public anywhere that weekend?

Thanks, Phil

Daniel replies:

One of the reasons we like living in this part of the Hudson Valley is that there are no monuments or museums dedicated to us, in fact 99.9% of locals deny having ever heard of us. We find this restful. However at the other end of the Hudson River you will find the quaint and charming village of Hoboken, long our spiritual home. There you will see many expressions of pride in us Pinkwaters, mostly executed in chalk on the pavement. We regret we will not be available for greeting on the weekend you cite. I have visited Cincinnati, and thought it was an excellent city.

Matthew

My unconscious role model

July 7, 2018

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

As a child I read a lot of your books.  I read every one I could find, even the ones not marketed for kids.  I loved them and they helped my love who I was.  I was weird, and the books gave me this sense that, although being weird might not be appreciated by my peers, out in the wider world there were places where weirdness had currency.  Somewhere out there were “my people,”  and if I could make it through childhood I could find them.   

Well I did make it through childhood, and did all sorts of fun things as an adult, and now I lead a generally great and fun life.  Your stories, though, were forgotten, until just last year.  As I was getting ready to have a child, I started to remember the books of my youth, and I started to reread the Pinkwater oeuvre.  As I read more and more I was struck by a wonderful realization.   By making the choices I had made in life, I had become a Pinkwater character!

My life seems normal to me, but if I write down what I do, I seem like a crazy character from your books.  I live on a communal homestead in a hand built house that is dug into a hillside.  On this homestead I grew, and eat, unusual fruit from all over the world, as well as regular vegetables, chickens, etc….  To support my hobby of growing unusual fruit I work as a puppeteer, classical guitar player, and emcee for hire.  This is just the big picture stuff too.  There are lots of other little things I am passionate about.  To name just a few, I have a large collection of hippopotamus figurines, I have tried every flavor of ice cream (out of 50+) at my local stand, and I recently bought pasta with 5 foot long noodles for a slurping competition.

I don’t say these things to brag.  Well maybe I do. But they also illustrate a point.  Reading your books later in life gave me a wonderful  gift.  It validated the choices I have made thus far.  If I am becoming a Daniel Pinkwater character, I must be doing something right.  In my youth they set out the path for me, and now they have confirmed that I got there successfully.  Thank you for everything!

-Matt  

Daniel replies:

Thank you for telling us about your perfectly normal and conventional life. I know it seems unique and unusual to you, but that's how everyone feels about their life. You are a farmer who enjoys music and has some hobbies--I think that's very nice. Also you like to read, and you like my books, of course I am gratified and flattered. Of course you are not a Daniel Pinkwater character. Daniel Pinkwater characters are heroic...like me!

Chloe

can you make more books?

July 1, 2018

I am Chloe and I am eight. I love your books. Could you please make more? If you could, then please do. I just read Lizard Music. I liked the Chicken Man and Victor. I can imagine how cute the baby chick would be if I was there. 

Love,

Chloe

Daniel replies:

Hello, Chloe! As a matter of fact, I was just thinking about what book I might write. I had forgotten all about the baby chick. Thanks for your suggestion. I will go back to thinking now.

Elizabeth

Just Thank You

July 1, 2018

We recently signed out Bear and Bunny from the library.  I just want to say thank you.  I wish you could hear my 5 year old giggle and laugh through the ENTIRE book.  Such a sweet, funny, and memorable story.  I love that I can share the amusement with her.

Daniel replies:

What could be cooler than a message like this? I think it must be sort of interesting how an adult person, such as myself, has been able to write stories that a five-year-old will find funny, but people seldom bring up the subject, or ask a question. I'm going to assume that someone reading this is curious about how I do it, and I will try to explain it now. When I was small, my father and his brother were home-movie enthusiasts, so I inherited several reels of film showing me as a little kid, doing somersaults, jumping around in my footie pajamas, all the usual things people film their kids doing. But what I was able to notice, I can't explain how, was that I had a sense of humor when I was five. It was the same sense of humor I was going to have for the rest of my life. As a little kid I had a much narrower frame of reference, but what struck me funny then would strike me funny now. Knowing that, and believing it's probably true for everyone, is how I am able to write funny books for little kids. People who think kids will laugh at things adults wouldn't find funny usually miss the mark.

Roger Parazaider

Retired 5th grade teacher, long time fan

June 25, 2018

Hello,

I am a retired fifth grade teacher from Geneva, IL, and I grew up in Chicago during the same time you grew up in Chicago.  My fifth grade class wrote to you in the 70’s and I read your books to all of my classroom students in the 45 years I taught.  You very kindly responded to the class (Harrison Street Elementary School in Geneva, IL) that wrote to you,  on a flattened White Castle hamburger cardboard carton, with food stains adorning the exterior.  The kids and I got a big kick out of the hamburger carton with your response, and we diaplayed it all year on the classroom bulletin board.  ( I still have that White Castle hamburger carton with your response written on it, in my many boxes of memorabilia!)

At a reading conference in the 1970’s (more than 500 people attended this conference) ,,,,the husband and wife team presenting the conference asked a trivia question, reading a quote from one of your books, and asked aloud if anyone knew the author of the quote.  I knew right away that you wrote this line in one of your books,  and answered the trivia question stating “the author is D. Pinkwater!!!”   The presenters were astounded that anyone knew the author, in fact in the twenty years they did this conference circuit,  they had never had anyone answer at all!!!!  

I want to sincerely thank you for all the books you have written and let you know the impact they had on all of my students.  I am also a fan of your creative writing style, and you and I are on the same wavelength as far as using imagination to reach and interest children, and get them sincerely interested in books.

From one Sargeant Schwartz fan to another,

Roger Parazaider

Daniel replies:

Isn't it wonderful that the reading conference presenters offered a quote from a book of mine as a trivia question, and FOR TWENTY years nobody recognized it, and they were astonished when you did....and yet I have had a career, paid my bills, hear from excellent readers who like my books? I have gotten to like the idea that only a few, only the best, readers have ever heard of me.

Jim Huffman

Chicken Man & Others

June 17, 2018

Dear Mr Pinkwater

I am an avid reader/visitor to your web site. Enjoy reading the many posts from your fans or readers. I am from your neighborhood, attended Nettlehorst aprox from the 3rd to the 7th grade, 1947 to 1952. Lived at 3162 Cambridge during those years. While attending Lane Tech, lived at 509 Roscoe, 1954 to 1958 and also afterwards to 1970, 735 Buckingham, 715 Barry & 430 Diversey.

I know this neighborhood so very well, so I enjoy the many reminisces that you & your writers wrote about. I would like to add some to the the many stories. The teacher Mr. Petrucci was the gym teacher when I was there, military veteran, also ran the safety patrol. Mr Block was the Principal, also Ms Aronson , Ms West & Ms Bloom were some of the teachers. The Gyp shop owned by the Richman’s to me was a decent store, I never heard of it being called by that name. I actually felt sorry for them. They were nice people, but a little strange, their products were reasonably priced. The Chicken Man, I first saw on a Broadway streetcar (the older Red cars) in 1945, going south from Lawrence Av. He laid his hat on the floor for tips, which my mother always contributed. Simon’s drugs were owned by three brothers. They were nice guys, knew me & my mother by our names. In 1960, I actually dated one of their cashiers, Holly, for a while. In the early 60s, they were robbed, & one of the brothers died from it, the store then was closed & sold. Outside on the corner was the old newspaper shack with its kerosene lamp inside & a small potbelly stove for heat. A little window would open, place your nickle and a gnarled hand would snatch it & a newspaper would be pushed out of the window, & would close fast. Dewes hardware had or could order everything you needed, they had another location south of Belmont. Eddies was were all the kids went for candy & comic books & had a soda counter as did Scotts 5 & 10, Walgreens, Pape’s drugs, & a slew of other drug stores also. The school safety patrol had three “groups”. South, West & North. We would march back & meet in front in the AM. And PM vs vs. The south group had about 12 or so boys, west about 3-boys & the north about 6-boys. I was assigned to Belmont & Broadway, NE to the SE corner. A cop & one boy were assigned to the Broadway crossing at Melrose. A Heinermann’s bakery on the SE corner, my Angel food birthday cakes came from there. The kids I hung out with were from both Nettlehorst & Mt Carmel. Jewish & Catholic, I never knew of any bigotry or prejudice. We, on our bikes, went everywhere, and in winter on streetcars or double deck buses. On nice days, we rode our bikes from the Loop to Howard to the forest preserves at Cumberland. We all went to the theaters that had the movies we wanted to see. Lake Shore, Essex, Julian, Vic, Buckingham, Mode, Music Box, Century, Parkway, Covent, Belmont, Riviera, Uptown. The Julian would make us check our cap guns on Saturday features of old B-grade movies, cartoons & serials. My first date at 12-yrs, with Judith Ex, was to the Uptown on a streetcar. During the summer we were at the beach, or riding thru Lincoln Park. During the non-beach months, the Swedish Social Club on Wilton near Belmont, allowed us to use their very big indoor swimming pool. Or we would go to a pool in the bldg on the NE corner of Broadway & Diversey. Another indoor pool was in the New Lawrence Hotel on Lawrence & Sheridan. The many stores along Broadway, many were kosher, a poultry, fish, meat, grocery, hardware, dime, many drug, taverns, bakery, shoe repair, etc on & on. Some of the Nettlehorst names: Stuart Glickman, Phillip Fischheimer, Alan Girsh, Norman Dupont, Enos Curtis, Stanley Ostroff, Berny Burlowitz, Charles Kapland, Helen Augenlich, Emma Scori, Judy Ex, Martha Dow, Joann Nelson, David Larson, Johnnie Reimer, Harry Altman, Pinhead Swanson, Arthur Cook, Billy Rojas. In you class photo, I know some of those kids. 

Daniel replies:

What a great post! Your memory is excellent, and your depiction of the old neighborhood gives me a lot of pleasure. I suppose that's because it confirms that the old scenes, names and faces really existed. In so many ways those memories are the most vivid and detailed, including as they do, some of the earliest ones. I hope some of the visitors to this website who were not lucky enough to live on Roscoe Street will enjoy your nice bit of writing.

Rhi

Comment of Thanks

June 15, 2018

Thank you!

Your book was my fave from when I was about 4 years old. At that age, I loved the pictures and the lyrical prose. And even then had the underlying appreciation that could not be articulated s of the power of being your own person and not giving a …care.

I read your book so many times a day as a kid that it became an organic background voice of authority in my head that I took for granted. Always promoting my personal style of me, and reminding me to respect that in others. 

Did not realise the impact of your book until I recently purchased “my favourite childhood book” (ok, pre Roald Dahl reading fave, but that is not shabby company!) to share with my 4 year old mini-me. The messages I take from it are just as powerfull to me as an adult, and exactly what I want to instil in her. 

Funnily too, I do now have a career making peoples homes exactly represent them + who they are!!!

Thank you for improving my life in such a positive way. I so appreciate you writing your amazing book, and it finding me (twice!) at the exact moment I needed it. As all the truly brilliant books do.

No reply needed. This is a pure fangirl gratitude email. 

Thanks,

Rhiannon

Australia

Daniel replies:

I'm guessing these gratifying remarks have to do with The Big Orange Splot.

DANIEL BAIG

Leonard never (?) sees Alan again — or does he?

May 20, 2018

Hi Mr. Pinkwater!

My question is about Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars.

The first sentence of Chapter 44 is, “I never saw Alan Mendelsohn again.”   (Which of course is very sad.)

But at the very end of the book, Leonard receives an invitation from Alan to spend summer vacation with him in “The Bronx” a.k.a Mars, conditional on it being OK with Leonard’s parents.

So does the 1st sentence of Chap. 44 mean that Leonard doesn’t accept Alan’s invitation — which is hard to believe, unless his parents put the kibosh on the plan for some reason — ?

Or should we take it that Leonard “wrote” [narrates] Chapter 44 prematurely — i.e., BEFORE the end of the story (the end of Chapter 46) has happened?

I’d apologize for asking you something like this about a book you wrote 40 years ago — except that it’s proof that your work is still being happily read 40 years after you wrote it, which has to be nice for an author to know!

Thanks much,

Daniel

Daniel replies:

It IS nice to know! As to whether Leonard ever saw Alan again, the text is unclear. Maybe it was intentional, I don't remember, nor do I know whose intention. Maybe it was an editorial inconsistency. At this point, the book has left my hands and is more or less in the hands of the readers. You are a reader. So, the answer is up to you. Thanks for reading.

Liz Hagan

Peanut butter dog cookies?

May 20, 2018

Did you ever publish the recipe for Ms. Jill’s cookies? Say should we have a recalcitrant Dane who can’t be motivated by food?

Thanks, 

Liz

Daniel replies:

I don't recall there being a recipe of Jill's for cookies for dogs. I will ask. Some dogs, (most really), are motivated by food, but some aren't. There are dogs motivated by toys, by praise, and...I don't know...possibly singing, possibly promises of concert tickets or certificates of deposit. You have to experiment and see what a particular dog likes.

1 2 3 4 195
Submit a message