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Adam Thornton

“Arnold Comes Home” happens to me

October 2, 2019

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

Long-time listener, first-time caller (actually untrue.  We enjoyed–well, I enjoyed, anyway–a short email correspondence probably twenty-some years ago, in which you described me as a “closet Shapiroist,” which is as true now as it was then).

At any rate: “Arnold Comes Home” just happened to me.

I lost my dear old goofy dog Argus a little over a year ago.  Cancer sucks.  This past weekend, I met a dog at Pima Animal Care Center, a foundling, whose physical resemblance to a young Argus was somewhere between “striking” and “uncanny.”  He’s somewhere between a year and two years old.  No longer a puppy, but definitely still youthful.  He put his chin on my arm like Argus used to, and I was smitten.

I live with two other dogs; a neurotic (as if there were another kind) Border Collie named Naga, and a big red Hound Of Uncertain Origin named Spot.  Spot is amiable to everyone, human or canine, but Naga wants to sort all other nonhuman mammals into “sheep” or “wolf” and behave accordingly, so I was a bit worried.  I need not have been.

As with Juno and the housecats, my dogs’ reaction to the new tenant was…much less anxious than I thought it would be.  I find it tough to characterize it as anything other than “hey, Argus is back.  Cool.”

The surprising-to-me thing is how much I feel the same way.  He’s clearly not the same dog, but…the same dog if he had a big slobbery drink from the Lethe before turning around and coming back?  Quite possibly.  He snuggles like Argus, he bounce-plays like Argus, he wags his whole back half like Argus.

I think his name is Blink this time around.

Thanks for writing that piece.





Daniel replies:

This happens. It's happened to us, more than once, and it's happened to others. I suspect maybe the old departed dogs stick around in a form we can't see and show the new dogs the good places to lie in the sun or shade and where the good weeds to make you throw up live. Good luck to you and your weird hairy friends. Also your dogs.

Ronnie Battista

Big Orange Splot

September 27, 2019

Mr. Pinkwater,

I wrote a while back about the impact of your book.  Since then, I’ve been giving copies of the Big Orange Splot to friends and colleagues.  I went from ordering 3 at a time, to 4, to 8 and now I buy them in lots of 12 off of Amazon.  And I got a tattoo of the paint can dropped by the seagull on my arm.  I think I’m pretty much all-in on this book. 🙂

Thanks for writing it.


Daniel replies:

It is so weird, in a nice way, to have someone make such a connection with something I wrote. It's like I always say, the reader is the important and creative one, the writer is just...well, the writer.

Bob J. Owen

Just a quick personal thanks for Mister Pinkwater.

September 24, 2019

I just wanted to let you know that not only was The Afterlife Diet one of the neatest and most original stories I’ve ever read but also helped me out a lot. I’ve never been fat until I was. Now not only am I middling vain but my knees hurt and I had to take a deep breath in before I tied my shoes because I couldn’t breath when bending over like that. Well I knew I had to slim up a bit. And that particular book inspired me to taper off of fatty foods instead of going cold turkey and subsisting off health foods like cold turkey. The thing is it’s worked and I’ve been able to maintain a comfortably chubby physique. That’s a big deal.  Oh and seriously it’s a great book that I try and get every consumer of printed words that are laid out in some esoteric order to be translated into some kind of tale or fable, but it also changed my life in a really significant way. I am sure you get messages like this frequently, but I hope each time you feel the pride you should in full and without unnecessary neurosis!

Daniel replies:

Wait a minute! Do you mean there are people whose knees don't hurt, and don't have to take a deep breath before tying their shoes? Damn! Are you sure about this?

Susan Kuhn

The meaning of the punctuation in “The Big Orange Splot”

September 21, 2019

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I was just introduced to “The Big Orange Splot” by my grandbaby, who is due this coming Sunday.  I was helping my daughter organize her home, when we realized that she had been given 2 copies of your book.  So I got a present also.  I absolutely;y love your book and wish that I’d know about it years ago when our three children were little.

I due have one question.  Why do you use correct punctuation throughout the book except when Mr. Plumbean says, “My house is me and I am it.  My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.”?  I was wondering if you didn’t use commas between the independent clauses because you wanted to emphasize that Mr. Plumbean and his house are one.  But then on p. 30, you do use a comma.  “Our street is us and we are it.  Our street is where we like to be, and it looks like all our dreams.”                                                                                                                                                                        Curiously and Most Sincerely, Susan

Daniel replies:

By punctuation you mean those little dots and dots with tails and squiggles and such am I correct I have always wondered what they were for and why the publisher puts them in

The Web Master

I Do Not Like It Here

September 10, 2019

Hello Pinkwater,

I miss the Hudson Valley and New York and the East Coast in general. I am in LA….or a little east of LA. I do not like it here. How do I change that? Is there anything I should look for? I am looking for beauty or something weird like that. How do you make the places sound so perfect in your books? I am somewhat young and trying to go to many places. What are the best places in your opinion?

Help is appreciated.



Daniel replies:

I don't know. Have you read my books set in LA? It was a cool place to be a kid. I don't know about now, but what I wrote described the place as I experienced it. On the other hand, if anyone were to move to Poughkeepsie prompted by reading what I wrote about it, they might be disappointed. It's not where you are, but how you are where you are.

Jim Knapp

Looking for an NPR piece you did

September 4, 2019

Hello Daniel, greetings from Seattle.  I’m writing to ask you where I may find your piece you did for NPR, probably in the 1990s, on your thoughts about the lights on your appliances at night.  How you saw and felt about these glowing sentinels in your home while walking in the dark.  I loved it and would like to read or listen to it once again.  I’ve searching endlessly but have come up empty.  If you could point me in the direction I would be forever grateful.  Peace. JK

Daniel replies:

I can't be sure...I did 600 or 700 of those little I may have done the one you mention, but I suspect it was some other commentator. Unless you remember it as being particularly good, and brilliantly written, in which case it was mine.

Vyxsin Fiala Savage

Thank you for being you!….Any chance of some new Compilations?

September 2, 2019

My little ones are growing up with your books just as I did…..YAY! I started collecting your books when they were just toddlers.  Did you know some of your older books are really hard to find? 🙂  Is there any chance of a compilation of some of the shorter older rarer books in the future?  The way that you put together 5 Novels, Four Hoboken Stories, and 4 Fantastic Novels? 

The stories/artwork on some of the shorter books are/is/were super beautiful (I agonized over how to phrase this and finally gave up…LOL)…Seriously though, it makes me sad that more people won’t have the chance to see them.  Last week we were working on the letter *B* so we read “The Blue Thing”…this week is *C* so we are reading “The Magic *C*amera” and, one of my favorite books of all time..”The Big Orange Splot”  (*C*olor)  Thank you for being so fun and insightful.  The world is a better place because of people like you. 

P.S….I WAS able to find a copy of “Wizard Crystal” but “Terrible Roar” is pretty tricky.  Of course, all of your newer stuff is super rad and I buy it right away so I don’t miss out!  We have a new rescue puppy, so we also enjoy your thoughts about dogs.  Again…thank you! All the best to you and your family.

Daniel replies:

Anything is possible. That is to say, it's possible some publisher will come up with a good idea. Not likely, but possible. Myself, I am just tired of trying to teach them right from wrong, so it would need to be an idea the publisher itself generated. In the past couple of years Dover came out with two bindups of four of my shorter books each...proof it's possible. Meanwhile, isn't it kind of fun to turn up rare copies of this and that? I'm glad you like my stuff, and your kids are reading it too.

Sabine Lambert

What happened to Lulu?

August 30, 2019

    I have just reread with pleasure Uncle Boris in the Yukon, and wondered what happened with Lulu, and what other dogs you have had since 2001.

Daniel replies:

Lulu completed her assignment on this planet after a good long life, never a day of illness, never unhappy for a minute, her time spent with people and animals who loved her. Within a week, we met Kee, who had a rough early life, but spent 10 years with us, and just as good as Lulu's life. Kee finally finished up, and is gone, and we are getting used to Phoebe, also known as Peaches, who is a puppy, and very sweet. We also lost Maxine, a Labrador who was raised from puppyhood by Lulu, and went on to be Kee's best friend. Dogs don't live as long as humans, so if you like them, you're going to know a number of them. We are sad when one goes, but we make sure the time they have is good. Thank you for asking.


bushman lives: wow

August 13, 2019

Dear Daniel,

I just finished Bushman Lives!.  I liked the ending.  That book is dynamite.  The terrible art person way to say it would be the book is “successful”, I think.  I’ve been reading your books since I was small and Lizard Music had  a particular effect on my development.  So it is with great pleasure and joy that I encountered Bushman Lives!.

I am also studying the Diamond Sutra right now, and I have begun to notice that working through a lot of your books as a kid and youth prepared me on a certain level for that kind of study.  Thanks for writing a whole lot of great books that also serve as fine if somewhat abstract volumes of moral and artistic instruction. 



Daniel replies:

I sort of like Bushman Lives myself. Thanks for mentioning it. It didn't receive a lot of attention. The Diamond Sutra was always a little more than I was able to handle. I like the Heart Sutra, the one that goes gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.


Do you realize that you are one of the greatest storytellers and authors of all time?

August 13, 2019

Dearest Mr. Pinkwater,
I’m contacting you to express the gratitude that I have towards you and your wife for the positive impact and perception changing influence you’ve had on my life. I’m 47 years old and I because reading your books when I was about 10 years old. I believe my first was the Hoboken Chicken Emergency, but it’s hard to recall exactly, because I immediately started to read anything and everything I could find at my local library in downtown Decatur, Georgia that was written by you.
Lizard Music, Yobgorgle, The Last Guru, and Alan Mendelssohn the Boy from Mars were my favorites then, and still, to this day. I even stress eating anchovies, calamari, and more exotic foods as a child because of your books.
As an adult, The Afterlife Diet impressed me and inspired me further in my career as a chef. I just wanted to thank you and your wife personally for all that you have contributed to education for young minds all over the world.
I apologize if my writing is rambling or not particularly cohesive. I’m not very good with technology or letter writing.
Anyway, I send much love and respect to you.

Your fan for life,
Steven Miller

Daniel replies:

It is OK. You are a chef. You are not a word guy. You have read and enjoyed some books, but I'm guessing not a vast number of books, not all the books, and possibly you didn't sign up for many literature courses. It is OK for you to think I am one of the greatest storytellers and authors of all time. You like the stuff I write, and that is good enough for me. I like fine cooking, but I don't really know a lot about it. We do our best, try to include love in the stuff we make, always know there's room for improvement, and some people get what we do. I'll settle for being the best storyteller and author I can be. How about you, Chef?


ABC Piano Internet Radio

August 13, 2019

 Mr. Pinkwater,

 I have a question for you regarding an Internet radio station that was called ABC Piano. Classical piano music was the only thing that was played on this station. However, it seems to have gone off the air within the last year or so. When I used to listen to it regularly, there was a host with the name of Daniel Pinkwater (or at least I believe that’s what the name was). Was that you? If so, what happened to that Internet radio station? I can’t seem to find it anywhere online anymore. In the past, I would listen to it using the TuneIn app. Then the station disappeared from that platform, and I was able to find it on a website called It disappeared from that website, too, and now I can’t find it anywhere. Is there a way to still listen to it here in the United States? Or has the plug been permanently pulled? I hope not because it was such a great source of solo classical piano music. I hope you can shed some light on this mystery. Thanks so much for your time!



Daniel replies:

Yes that was me. I was primarily the English language announcer on Radio Mozart, which also seems to have disappeared. I can't say exactly what happened, but when I volunteered to record announcements on Radio Mozart it was all Mozart all the time, and Nicolas Goyet, the producer and proprietor, made brilliant selections of performances. I think he made some kind of deal for bandwidth with that Radionomy outfit you mention, I don't know for sure, but after a year or two really horrible, loud and aggressive advertisements turned up on the station, anyway for USA listeners...didn't fit with the music at all. Even though I admired Nicolas's curatorship, my listening migrated to stations like Venice Classic Radio, and thus I'm not even sure when Radio Mozart, ABC Piano, and other stations of Nicolas and Radionomy stopped, and by this time I'd lost touch with Nicolas. He did a wonderful job for quite a while.


Use of names

August 8, 2019

Would you mind if I used the name Indiana zephyr for my Instagram art account? It has such a nice ring to it and I think a wonderful tribute, but if it’s some copyright infringement issue I understand. Thank you for all the books you have written,


Daniel replies:

I think I probably stole that name myself. Help yourself, feel free.


Behemoth Message

August 8, 2019

 I would like to say many things and now I will write them. I love your books so much that I can’t handle it, and every time I think about one of your books I get this itch that makes me want to dance and sometimes cry from overfilling feelings and read the book again. I think that you’re the best writer on the planet except Kurt Vonnegut, because when I read his books- well, I can’t even really explain it. 

I have this suspicion that you know something that most grown-up people don’t have any idea exists. As a kid, I think you know exactly what is is to be one, and every other writer is too focused on what they think kids will like instead of what they want to write about. I think you know more than that though. I think the kids who love what you’ve written have read your books for a reason. I think we should form a secret coalition to act fast and quickly make the world more human- or however you want to explain it, more turtle-ish. More lovely and wise. 

When I was really little, I started reading the neddiad. I really believe that book is exactly how I feel on the inside; I’m not sure how you could ever feel like a story about a group of people doing things you’ve never done can resonate with you so heavily, but it sure does. There’s something about that book, everything about that book, that makes me so happy, makes me feel safe, like almost nothing bad can happen to me. Next year I’m going to a new school. Change is the scariest thing I’ve ever encountered, except once, being chased by a goose. Every time I get really scared and start getting all jumpy and nervous, I think about how Neddie wasn’t afraid to leave everything he’d ever known because he was going to be like Dart-Onion. Neddie is my Dart-Onion. 

Anyway, all of my friends have been forced to read five novels, and every time I eat chili I think of Samuel Klugarsh. I wish I could join the wild dada ducks, or start my own dada group and perform masterpieces at lunch. I wish I could snark out and loudly talk about James Dean with Rat. My dream is to visit the La Brea tar pits see the pussycat aliens with Professor Tag, and visit the island of the lizards, all three of which could conceivably be attained. I want to live in a Daniel Pinkwater book. Your alternate universes are my utopia. This is why I choose to get lost in them on a regular basis. 

Finally, I think the reason that life hasn’t affected me as badly as it could have, are your books. They make me feel a kind of happy that’s been hard for me to feel lately, and make me want to write or make pictures when I am upset or unmotivated. In conclusion, you are fantastic, thank you for everything. 

Daniel replies:

First, I have to thank you for all the nice compliments. Then, I have to tell you that if you hadn't found my stuff you would have found some other brilliant writer who'd have had the same effect...because--get ready, here comes the wisdom--because you read creatively. Someone with a less bright intellect could read all the same stuff of mine that you've read, and possibly enjoy it, but it wouldn't mean so much to that person, because not a creative reader, not investing as much in the stories. Put another way, you give me a lot of credit for creating all this art, but the art isn't finished, and doesn't have any meaning, until the reader/viewer/recipient comes along, and what you get out is proportionate to what you put in. Well, actually, that's putting it the same way, but you get the idea. Kurt Vonnegut! He and I were both guests at some kind of conference and we wound up having supper together. I was pretty excited, since he was my favorite writer...and he knew who I was! He didn't know me from my books, but I had written him a fan letter, and he told me he had it pinned up over his desk. My letter! Pinned up over his desk! Then he ordered drinks, different kinds of drinks every time, and one for me. I do not drink. However, I was not going to let Uncle Kurt think I was a sissy. So I got drunk. Then I was supposed to give a speech. Which I did. It lasted maybe three minutes. The people attending the conference looked like they wanted to kill me. Vonnegut said it was the best speech he ever heard. Then he went to play pinball, and I went to bed. I never saw him again. But I switched my desk around so I would not be writing facing a wall. I will not be pinning your email anywhere, and you will not be having supper with me, also I advise you to stay away from alcohol.

Robert Frazier

My son created a trifold for school

August 6, 2019

My son created a really cool trifold celebrating the Big Orange Splot.  I’d like to share it with you. He worked for very hard on the project.  Thnx. Robert

Daniel replies:

My goodness! It's wonderful!


Do you remember Stuart stern from day camp when you were 6 or 7

August 6, 2019

Mr Pinkwater

I just received a copy of your book Lizard Music and it was awesome. My dad sent it to me.

I asked how he knew you and he said you were his friend at daycsmp in Evanston IL. 

I just thought you’d like to know that he remembers you after all these years and you must’ve made a difference in his life because he kept that book all these years from the Evanston Library.

Thank you for your time 

Michelle Hawker (Stern)

Daniel replies:

Wait a minute! It's a library book? Stuart Stern from daycamp took out a library book from the Evanston Public Library and never returned it? Has it to this day, or did until he gave it to his daughter? I never thought when I was playing baseball in public parks, and drinking not-very-cold milk out of those little miniature cartons, with Stuart Stern that he would wind up keeping a library book. Obviously, I did not write the book when I was 6 or 7, so Stuart must have come across it later, when he was older, and knew better, and recognized my name, and then he kept it?!?!? I think someone owes the Evanston Public Library nine dollars and ninety-five cents.

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