Talk to DP Forum

Terry Gawryk

Fred’s Hot Dogs, Chicago

March 26, 2020

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

Thank you for the delightful essay, “Where is the Grease of Yesteryear?” from Pig Whistle, which I recently read in American Food Writing, edited by Molly O’Neill.

I’m a native Chicagoan, of not so tender years myself.  Though I wasn’t my immigrant parents’ “anchor baby” I was born at Cook County Hospital.   It’s been a matter of some inflated self-esteem, that I have tried to frequent every neighborhood,  hot dog stand and fast food joint that I have ever come across in my own perigrinations about town, at least once.  And though I can imagine Fred’s, I don’t seem to know it.  Did you perhaps rename it “Fred’s” to protect the innocent, or to repay curmudgeonly Fred for his studied, Chicago blue-collar indifference: “Yeh. So What?”.  Doesn’t matter, either way.  I’m just curious which place and where it is or was located.

My house ain’t on fire, so there’s no need to jump up to your computer to send a reply.  If you’re reading this about the time that I sent it on March 25, 2020, then you know that Fred may not be serving “food” now anyway.

 

Daniel replies:

I'm a fiction writer. I'd say that in my whole growing up in Chicago I had no more than five of the classic Chicago dog, with the sport peppers, pickle spear, green relish and all that muck. Probably fewer. Years later I became friends with a man who opened an authentic Chicago hot dog place near my home in New York state...I would drop in and order mine without the sausage, (a genuine Vienna, imported from Damen Avenue.) If there exists a Fred's Red Hots it's a coincidence, mine is made up. You seem to be someone of mature years, which surprises me, given your eating tendencies. Congratulations on your hearty constitution.

Kevin Cheek

Dwergish Hooray!!!!

March 25, 2020

I just saw your coming soon announcement for Adventures of a Dwergish Girl 

WooHOOOO!!!

Are you going to weblish it chapter by chapter as you have the previous novels?

Can’t wait! (ok I can wait, but I don’t promise to enjoy waiting).

 

Daniel replies:

You know, I hadn't thought of that. Time past, when we weblished a chapter at a time leading up to publication, sales were enhanced according to the book publisher. I'll ask the publisher of this one what he thinks. Thanks for the suggestion.

Ryan Retherford

An unexpected connection

March 24, 2020

Hello Mr. Pinkwater,

What a Pleasure to have found this website! Such a treasure trove.  Thank you for making so much content available, I’m having a ball!

I discovered Lizard music at around 10 years old and remember it as not only my first “chapter book” but my standalone favorite for that period of my life.  You are solely responsible for the ensuing love of reading I developed and I thank you for that.

I’m 42 now and sharing it with my soon-to-be 8 year old son.  He has exclaimed several times that he “loves it!” and always wants me to read more before I tell him it’s time for bed.  I am so pleased that he likes it.  Another memory that I will hold dear for which I am indebted to you.

A few nights ago, as we were reading, I was stunned to find an obscure yet familiar-to-me literary reference; Rene Daumal’s Mount Analogue.  My mind was blown.  What was that title doing in this YA novel?!  Whenever I last read Lizard Music all those years ago, I would’ve read right past it without a second thought. Now however it elicited in me the same warm and magically mysterious sensation that your writing did.  I read Daumal’s book just a few years ago and I remember thinking that it reminded me of Lizard Music!

At 18, a dignified and sagely wheelchair- bound woman that I’d befriended introduced me to Gurdjieff and his wonderfully esoteric and convoluted complexities.  I devoured much of his work as well as many of his students’.  He was a jumping off point for me spiritually and philosophically.  I ventured out from there but never forgot him and his influence.  He seems to be enjoying a bit of a renaissance in some circles these days and I have encountered him via a number of unexpected avenues, yours being the most recent.

So then, I wonder, what if any connection do you have?  I read somewhere here about your involvement with a cult and I pondered if it was somehow affiliated with a 4th way school ( I myself was briefly a member of one in my early twenties).  Which then makes me curious, should you be willing to share,  about your spiritual journey in general.  What paths and detours did you take and where do you find yourself now?  My fondness for you and your writing hopes to find that we are simpatico in some way, that we’ve travelled some of the same trails.  I certainly don’t want to pry but, if you can, do tell! 🙂

 

In the meantime, thank you so much for all the work you’ve created!  I’m excited to explore more of it with my son.

Kindest regards,

Ryan

 

Daniel replies:

Thanks for taking time to tell me of your experience with Lizard Music...such a kick for a book of mine to be appreciated by a second generation. In addition to the Mount Analogue reference, should you and your son choose to explore more of my books, you'll find all kinds of facts mixed in. It's as much for my own amusement as anything else...yours is the perfect case...I like to imagine a formerly young reader returning to a book enjoyed as a child and saying something like, "Wait a minute! Mount Analogue? Now I know why that title seemed strangely familiar just the other year!" Or Lord Buckley, or TIbetan fortune-telling using egg creams, or the science of knot-tying...there are all kinds of raisins in the rice pudding. As to naming any organization, cults, recognized religions, secret societies, and the like, I prefer to refrain from doing so. Some of these, while populated with well-intentioned seekers after truth are also the hangouts of pickpockets, frauds, abusers, and poseurs, and readers who make the mistake of thinking I'm smart may take my mentioning as an endorsement. You know the old saying, attributed to the man himself "A little Gurdjieff goes a long way."

Kris Spoor

Hello from New Middle Earland

March 22, 2020

Hello Mr Pinkwater,

I first discovered your book The Snarkout Boys and the Baconburg Horror when I was 10 years old, in the bottom, dusty shelf of my school’s library in Manila. It was the only book of yours in our library and I may have borrowed it at least 5 times throughout my years there. One of the regrets I have in my life is not stealing it from the school library before I graduated.

Anyway, I just wanted to say how much I love your books and what a joy it is to introduce it to my own child (aged 8). She’s finally old enough to understand the jokes and references, although saying that, living in Christchurch, New Zealand is probably diametrically opposite to life in Hoboken. (We don’t have access to proper Hot & Spicy Oil.)

We’re almost done with Borgel and just because I need to ask a question, do you have a recommendation on what to read aloud next? I’m thinking the first Snark Out Boys. I don’t think my 8 year old can handle Young Adult Novel just yet.

Daniel replies:

You may take your pick...I've written quite a few books, and I am proud to say that only a few of them stink. Are you aware that there are a number of audio books available for free download here on this very website: http://www.pinkwater.com/audiobooks/ ? Unfortunately they are read by some mumbling bum with a Chicago accent, but not much else is wrong with them.

Joseph Baptist

Thanks for the audiobooks!

March 19, 2020

On behalf of my studnets and their families, thank you for providing these audiobooks for free.  They say that laughter is the best medicine, and you are a heroic provider of laughter.

Thank you for your great books, and your kind and generous heart.

Daniel replies:

I didn't start out by asking, "How can I do something that helps people?" Instead, I said, "Hey, I can do this!" and "Someone is willing to pay me!" Much later I noticed that some people derive benefit from it. Of course, I'm glad, but...

Kimberly Hardy

Permission to read for teaching online

March 19, 2020

Good afternoon Mr. Pink water.

Our school district is scrambling like many others to find/create supplemental materials for our students while closed for the Coronavirus. Many of us are reading some of our favorite books to our students via the school website/Facebook/YouTube.

My K-5 music students are hoping to have their annual program once school is back in session…the theme is “Imagination”. Growing up your book, The Big Orange Splot, was one of my favorites and still is. I would like permission to record a reading of the book for my students.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kimberly Hardy

Music K-5

Endy and Locust Elementary Schools, Stanley County Schools, NC

Daniel replies:

Dear Ms Hardy -- Yes you may use THE BIG ORANGE SPLOT or any other book of mine in any way at all, as long as no admission is charged, copies are not made and distributed, and nothing is sold for money. Also, at any time, and particularly during the virus emergency your pupils are welcome to download free audio books at http://www.pinkwater.com/audiobooks/

Jackie Cash

Greetings from CoronaVirus California

March 17, 2020

Well, as one of the first survivors of this particular plague, I just wanted to tell you what got me through it, and my intention in telling you is that I want you to get through it.

I like you, you see, and I would like it if you lived.

I was able to Ward it off with a combination of ( raw ) garlic toast, sunlight, actually eating vegetables and the ever-popular chicken soup.

I am a person who prefers to subsist on pretzel rods and Laughing Cow Cheese, so let me tell you being forced to eat my vegetables, and raw garlic, and to go into sunlight of all things! These are desperate measures I would not recommend except in times of plague and I do heartily recommend them to you my beloved Mister pink water

I’m sorry you had to come to Eeyore’s book so often in the 1980s they were really hoping you would meet me and my father was absolutely insensible to my pleas and he would take me about 40 miles away. He had his troubles and I have to say you helped me in a lot of them in particular the phrase “some people are just pre-civilized” was very helpful in regard to that man. I love you, take care of yourself, stay afloat.  Yours, Jackie Jack Cash

Daniel replies:

We're ahead of you on the veggies and chicken soup and sunshine business. Not only is it our response to various pandemics as they wander through from time to time, it is the reason our immune systems are getting all the help we can give them, and we are quite robust for our ages, except mentally, of course. Terribly nice of you to share your common-sense program with us, and through this website to other intelligent life forms. I draw a blank trying to remember Eeyore's book store, but I hope I conducted myself in a dignified and correct manner with regard to whatever it is that you refer to in the last paragraph.

Peri

Thank you

March 2, 2020

Mr. Pinkwater,

My family discovered your books about 20 years ago,  when my grandmother, a library volunteer, gave us a box of discarded library books, and one of them was Borgel.  I’ve always had mixed feelings about this: I can’t applaud the library’s decision, but it did put us in touch with your writing, which we’ve enjoyed ever since.

What I wanted to tell you was how I discovered Bear’s Picture.  This was at the library of a big prestigious art school that will remain nameless, with big impressive buildings and mostly lousy teachers.  Everyone was expected to draw exactly the same way, and at the same skill level.  I was not up to the level of the “A” students, and the teachers did not want to bother with me.  So I got fed up and quit.  I’m teaching myself to draw now (though I’m still fed up), and trying to make sense of things.  

Enough about me.  I just wanted to say that it was ironic to find Bear’s Picture at that school, and that I found it when I probably needed it most.  I’m glad you wrote it.

For that matter, I’m glad you wrote all your other books.

So, thank you.

Sincerely,

Peri

P.S. One last thing: you should know that the first sentence of The Education of Robert Nifkin is one of the best first sentences ever written.

Daniel replies:

I think one can learn how to make art, but it seems hardly possible that it can be taught, anyway in school setting. It's too personal a thing, and it's too much to hope that a bunch of people can march into a classroom and find a teacher there who has something to say to each, or any, of them. Probably getting chased out of the prestigious art school was the best thing that could have happened to you. That, and finding my book.

Andrea Moore

Please, Will We Hear More from Mrs. Noodklekugel and Company?

February 27, 2020

My son and I adore the Mrs. Noodklekugel series and wonder if we might hear more from these wonderful characters.  Thanks very much!

Daniel replies:

No, I think that's all. People think authors can just write whatever they want, and it gets published. That may be true for some superstar types, but the likes of me have to get a publisher to agree. Publishers are companies, usually part of some corporation, and as such they are fairly dumb. I hardly pay attention, and may be remembering wrong, but I think the word on the Noodlekugel books was, "We don't want any more, but we would be happy to look at something just as good." So I just forgot about doing any more business with them. Notwithstanding, I keep getting letters from some department at the publisher congratulating me on the second, third, fourth, fifth printing of one or another of the Noodlekugels. So the books seem to be selling, but within the company one department doesn't know what the other one is doing. This is very common to my experience. Years ago, I had a book with another publisher and for a couple of years the head of their sales department told me over and over, "What a good book, such a shame it is not selling at all." The whole time I knew from reports from another department that it was their best-selling title throughout the company. Keep this email for the day when your son asks you to explain capitalism and why we don't have it any more. I am writing some other books! When you hear of one, grab a copy before it goes out of print.

Wilbur Daedalus

Kevin Shapiro

February 19, 2020

I’ve formed a council of immortal beings (me, my sister, and our weird friend who loves Beethoven) to adopt a boy, after the wild dada ducks. His name is Jacob and he has extremely long white blond hair. We feel that he is the greatest and most pure human being to currently walk the earth. We have decided that all of his friends and most of the people in Jacob’s life don’t love and support him as they should, so we would like our boy to be more appreciated. This week he’s going to get delivered to him: a singing valentine, a slice of peanut butter cake, and as a token of our love, cards will be distributed in the school bathrooms proclaiming his greatness. We hope this doesn’t end in us getting pelted in soggy grape nuts.

Daniel replies:

I can practically guarantee you will be pelted with soggy grapenuts. Consider it a rite of passage, and evidence that you failed to grasp the warning in my book.

Matt Casey

Has there been a moment or a dialogue within fiction, even your own work, that has helped you in difficult times?

February 5, 2020

Borgel and Yobgorgle are two of the most influential books of my childhood, teen years, and adult life. It made me happy to have found your site and realize simply that I am able to tell you this.

In the middle of Borgel (I believe just after meeting the fake great popsicle, but my book was lost in a recent move), there is one part where Melvin starts to feel a bit overwhelmed by the whole ordeal, and Borgel tells him that they can go home at any time, in just a few minutes. Almost unexpectedly relieved by this, Melvin is emboldened to continue the adventure.

Through years of moving, change, new uncomfortable experiences, the idea of ‘let’s keep exploring, you can turn back if you need to’ has helped me immensely.

Has there been a moment or a dialogue within fiction, even your own work, that has helped you in difficult times?

Daniel replies:

I'd need to think about this. I can't remember any moment or dialogue in fiction that has helped me...though I'm sure there have been many. I can't even remember any difficult times, not that there haven't been some, but for a long time I've been able to look at them as occasions to learn something. Here's an example: I remember making a mistake in training a horse, (I did not pay proper attention and show proper respect), so the horse pushed me down and stood on my leg, which was singular, and I remember thinking, "So, now I know what it feels like when a horse stands on your leg." When the horse let me get up, I did not apologize so much as slug her as hard as I could. The horse apparently thought that was ok, and we both understood I would have better manners dealing with her in the future. Being stood on by a horse could be regarded as a difficulty, but it was a lesson, and the start of a wonderful inter-species friendship. (My leg wasn't broken or anything, just stood upon.)

Rob Yam

Names; where do you get them?

January 31, 2020

Hi Mr. Pinkwater,

Every time I read one your books, I marvel at the masterful use of peculiar names. Where do you get them? Charles Dickens was adept at choosing names for his characters, and I’d done some reading on how he found them or created them. I mean, Osgood Sigerson, Hamish MacTavish. How do you do it?

Sincerely,

Rob Yam

Daniel replies:

Think about it. What is my name? It's my real name. And it's ridiculous. Every time I see it in print, to this day, and every time I have heard it spoken, it tends to make me snort and giggle. "And first prize in the school short story contest goes to....Cadet Daniel Manus Pinkwater." That was the first time I broke out laughing when I should have been gravely accepting praise for my first literary accomplishment. Does this answer your question?

Nick

Food, man

January 28, 2020

Dear Pinkwater,

I find myself living in Germany and on my own for the first time. I crave chili. Do you have a good recipe? Anything that might resemble the stuff from the bermuda Triangle chili Parlor? I require yummy chili that will satisfy my soul and not just combine beans and tomatoes and spice…

 

In solidarity,

…Nick

Daniel replies:

I suggest you locate the Mexican neighborhood in whatever city in Germany. Hint: Look for small hairless dogs, and people playing guitars.

Lori

Thank you for your book The Big Orange Splot

January 27, 2020

I discovered this beautiful little book about 10 years ago when was working in a children’s library. I immediately liked it and it’s theme of imagination, individualism and acceptance. I read it to my children often and later when I was a teachers assistant in a school. My daughter just asked me to read it to her tonight and we laughed because she’s turning 17 tomorrow:) I told her that would like to give a copy of this book to everyone I meet! Thank you Mr. Pinkwater.

Daniel replies:

17 is not too old to like that book. I am older than 17 and I still like it. Thanks for giving copies to everyone you meet. I hope you meet a lot of people.

Chris Propfe

Henry Kaiser Introduced Me To You

January 19, 2020

Just got introduced to your books through purchasing the Henry Kaiser CD, Devil In The Drain. I guess I’m a little late to the party. Lol. I’m a Kindergarten teacher, singer, songwriter, and guitarist. I actually put out a CD of original children’s music a few years back. Just reaching out to say hello, and looking forward to reading your books, owning some, and reading them to my class. Any suggestions for which book I should start with?

Thank you,

Chris Propfe

PS: I live in Poughkeepsie. Just saw you lived in the Hudson Valley too!

Daniel replies:

Nope. Start anywhere, and see where you're taken. PS: Hard to tell, just from a couple of posts, but I get the impression you are not depressed, even though you live in Poughkeepsie. Remarkable, if true.

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