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Saturday 10 March 2012

Ruth Bosch 2012

"What I am now is waves and particles, I don't need to walk around, I just go."

- from Pilgermann

".....still I am of the world, still I have something to say, how could it be otherwise, nothing comes to an end, the action never stops, it only changes...."

- from Pilgermann

I did this in my field, up in the back forty. Buckland, Massachusetts. Or Western Massachusetts.

In memory of Russell Hoban 1925-2011

Friday 9 March 2012

Diana Slickman 2012

I found myself without yellow paper this morning. Also without Russ, but I expected that.  I had a quote - two, in fact - from The Bat Tattoo. I had selected the book at random, as is my practice on February 4, and as is my practice, opened the book at random to see what volunteered itself to go out into the world.  The quotes themselves suggested where they wanted to be left, and I agreed.  But I needed the paper!  I took the red line downtown and dropped into an art supply store, where I was pleased to note that while fashions may come and go, art students look the same as they always have, or at least the same as they did when I as in school; desperately, uniformly unconventional. I was cheerfully sold a few sheets of yellow paper and a new pen by the art student behind the till, and I went to a coffee shop to prepare the quotes for their journey.  I still 4Qate by hand.  On one page, I transcribed this:

"I always feel good in museums.  I like the high ceilings and the acoustics, the footsteps and voices, the silence over and under the footsteps and voices and the individual silences of each thing, all of them different, all of them holding a long departed Now."

On another paper, this:

"At the corner of Parsons Green Lane I nodded to the two telephone boxes that stood like a pair of lanterns and paused to acknowledge the trees which were still embracing the night.  I admire those trees; fashions come and go but the trees still maintain their original identity, their unfashionable mystery.  They hold last night's darkness like lovers reluctant to let go....Sometimes I am astonished that there should be buildings built and institutions maintained to string out the brevity of human life over successive generations; trees don't do that, they just hold on to the darkness and accept the light night after night and day after day without pretensions to permanence."

I added, as is my custom, to each of these a little addendum that went something like this:

"Russell Hoban, from The Bat Tattoo.
February 4th is Russell Hoban's birthday.  This paper, and your finding it and reading it, are part of an annual worldwide celebration of the man and his work."

But this year I had to add, "He passed away in December."

I finished my coffee and headed across the street to the Art Institute of Chicago, a formidable stone building on Michigan Avenue, guarded by two bronze lions, full of high ceilings and footfalls and silences.  I went to buy a ticket, but the young man behind the counter told me that if I waited 15 minutes, I could get in at a reduced rate, as it would be within an hour of close.  That sounded reasonable, so I took myself back outside and headed to a little park one block south.  There, carefully spaced in little plots hemmed in by wide gravel paths, were a few trees accepting what light they could in the shadow of Michigan Ave.'s curtain wall of tall buildings. It was a Russ sort of day: gray, breezy, with a hint of damp. I picked a tree at random, at a corner of two paths, and pinned the tree quote to it.  It fluttered a little in the breeze, as though shaking itself out to settle into the work of being a quote pinned to a tree.

Still with time to kill before the hour of reduced admission, I wandered into the Art Institute's book store.  Vermeer's pearly girl looked pleadingly out of the covers of two or three books.  We regarded one another, acknowledging the lack of Russ in the world.  And then I saw a big handsome volume of Edward Hopper paintings standing at attention on a shelf and I knew my work would be done here.  I opened the book at random, as is my custom, and found there a picture of a woman in a slip, standing at a window, looking out into the morning light.  I put the museum quote next to her and closed the book.

I took the train back home, without going into the museum.

Here's to Russ.

Photo borrowed from this blog

Diana Slickman  founded the Slickman A4 Quotation Event (SA4QE) in 2002.  More info

Thursday 8 March 2012

Richard Cooper 2012

SA4QE day 2012 being a Saturday, my two boys were off school, so I thought this a good time to introduce them to the wonders of 4qation. Joe (6) had in fact had an early introduction to the activity but I doubt he remembered much about it. I sat him and his brother Charlie, 5, down in the front room with some sheets of yellow paper and read them various poems from The Last of the Wallendas to encourage them to choose a poem or a line they liked and write it down. They found the poems a bit difficult to get into however, so I switched to a Hoban they were more familiar with, Trouble on Thunder Mountain. The book is a favourite one at bedtime, the fantastic Quentin Blake illustrations as much a joy as the beautifully-told short story of a small family of dinosaurs uprooted from their mountain home by a nut who wants to replace it with a plastic one. While I read the book Charlie picked out single words and wrote them down, and Joe did a drawing of his favourite part of the story (we won't hold it against him) when the dinosaurs' mountain is blown up by Mr Flatbrain and his team of robots. After I'd finished reading we talked about the story and agreed that having your home blown up and being forcibly relocated was A Bad Thing, and Joe wrote down this:

"A hi-tech plastic mountain?" said Dad.
"It takes a man named Flatbrain to think of something like that," said Jim.

- from Trouble on Thunder Mountain

I had discovered earlier that morning that today was also, by a lovely coincidence, National Libraries Day, in which people were being encouraged to visit their local library and get a Message across to the Authorities that our society would be the poorer for the closure of these services. Whether I personally feel that some in the UK's coalition government are akin to Mr Flatbrain, I couldn't possibly comment.

So with libraries and books very much in mind, we headed off on a very cold and grey afternoon just on the edge of snow into the town centre. Rugby is fortunate in some ways in that its main library building is also a museum and tourist centre, so is probably unlikely to be among those shut by the Flatbrains.

We went in half an hour before closing time and toured the shelves, picking out books that the boys found interesting, on minerals, stars, Sikhism, the Sahara Desert. I explained the Dewey system and we looked up "cars" in the catalogue and went looking for the relevant shelf number. We looked in the Fiction section for books by Russell Hoban and found a hardback of Angelica Lost and Found. I told them about the painting on the cover and Ruggiero flying on the hippogriff to save Angelica.

As much as I love the internet, and the boys are very web-literate for their ages, this is simply not something you can do online.

Suddenly it was nearly closing time, so we hurried into the children's section and found a leaflet holder on the wall in which - after explaining it was not an act of vandalism - I encouraged Joe to secrete his quote:

Then on the way out I left my own quotes, chosen earlier from The Moment under The Moment, in a good place by the front door (I did actually pop it into the box, which seemed otherwise empty, after taking the photo):

The people who run the world now were children once. What went wrong? Why do perfectly good children become rotten grown-ups?
- from Pan Lives (The Moment under The Moment)

In my house of childhood of the mind lives Vol. XVII of the Harvard Classics, the only book in the Five-Foot Shelf much handled; Locke and Hume and Darwin looked as new as the day they were unpacked but Vol. XVII was Folklore and Fable, Andersen and Aesop and the brothers Grimm, and it was in heavy use. Oscar Wilde’s House of Pomegranates and The Arabian Nights live there also. As a child I did much of my reading in the room in our house called the library. It was lined with books in Russian, Yiddish, and English and had a massive oak table. No one else I knew had such a room. I had outdoor reading places as well, and of these my favourite was a big old wild cherry tree where in season I read Robin Hood and ate little sun-warmed black cherries.
- from “‘I, that was a child, my tongue’s use sleeping…’” (The Moment under The Moment)

We went home just as it started snowing heavily, and I tweeted and Facebooked it all.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Bristol Grammar School riff on Kleinzeit

For SA4QE 2012 Roland Clare, English teacher and long-time SA4QE contributor, introduced his Year 8 class to Russell Hoban’s classic 1974 novel Kleinzeit and then gave them five minutes, at the end of the lesson, to write a paragraph inspired by it. These were the results. Enjoy ...


Kleinzeit had a sudden pain straight down his hypotenuse. He crumpled in pain.

‘Pah!’ said the man at the desk. But was there a man?

‘Get on with it.’ Kleinzeit walked through the underground while explaining things to the audience.

‘Wherever I am, whoever I am, I will get this sudden pain through hypotenuses.

Jude (12)


Kleinzeit suddenly jolted out of his seat as a vision of a dark figure popped up in his head. ‘What was it?’ said Kleinzeit. Several people turned their heads at his confused face. He quickly shut his eyes again as he realised what he had done. It was all very embarrassing for him so he started to walk away from the strange people that had looked at him in a very funny way. He had no idea where he was going but he wanted to go somewhere where things respected him. He started to walk towards his house, which was at least a couple of miles away, but that didn’t bother him in the slightest. He passed at a wedding-dress shop and he pictured a dog, wondering helplessly around wearing the bright white dress. It then turned around and said, 'All right mate?' and trotted off.

Owen (12)


Kleinzeit walked to the door, and the window said, ‘Why not use me, Kleinzeit?’

Angus (12)


Kleinzeit glided along the platform and entered the train. The doors slid shut. The train rumbled along the track. Sparks flickered out. He stumbled along the carriage, holding on to the rail as he went. He eventually found a vacant seat. He glanced at his copy of The Peloponnesian War. ‘Humph,’ he sighed. ‘As if I would read it,’ he thought to himself.

Milo (13)


‘Fine, be like that then,’ said Kleinzeit. ‘See if I care.’ He opened his attaché case and then closed it again. He could see what was not in the case.
‘Oh, but you do care,’ said the bed in the hospital.
The audience reassembled themselves, back into their places
‘What are you doing?’ asked Kleinzeit.

Happy Russmas!

Emma (13) 


It happened again, from a voice to another voice. It felt like there were lots of people in Kleinzeit talking.

‘Ha ha ha,’ said the clock, which wasn’t moving its arrows.

The tables were yawning and the pencils were bent forward, tired.

Happy Russmas!



‘Why am I here?’ The audience laughed. ‘Am I here?’ Silence struck. He feels alone, where is everyone? The audience in his mind have vanished. ‘Hello.’ There was a laugh, the audience were back, or were they, clapping was due, but again, nothing happened. ‘I’m not here, I’m dead, what do I do?’ He rests his eyes, a face appeared in front of him, he said nothing, nor did the face, but he felt a strange pain to leave this illusion.

Happy Russmas for tomorrow!



Kleinzeit left the office, noticing the Aquafresh sign on Mrs Howard’s door. He walked down the stairs, one, two, three … and so on until the last where he stopped, stooped and inspected a glob of chewing gum on the floor. ‘Hi, it called, would you mind not standing on me?’ ‘Sorry,’ muttered Kleinzeit. Kleinzeit went down in the lift and walked to the underground.

On the train he looked into the bag of the lady sitting next to him. On the other side of town the hospital bed chuckled, ‘In you come,’ it said, ‘and Sister will sort out that A to B problem.’

Spent five minutes on this, my Kleinzeit piece. Happy Russmas!

Freya (12)


I woke with a pain. I didn’t want to look. Then I heard it. Sounded like a hum. Then it happened again but this time my mind registered it. ‘Kleinzeit, you have finally come to your senses, well done.’ Then my mind started to wander away and I started to drift into a warm, loving sleep.

Chris (13)


…and began to write a television commercial for Bonzo Toothpaste…

He wasn’t meant to be writing about toothpaste, but he didn’t see why he shouldn’t. The dandruff made it all the harder to read his writing. Just the way I like it, he thought. At exactly 12:15 pm, three men walked into his office. Kleinzeit had been expecting them, but in 37 more seconds. Why can’t people turn up on time? He wondered. The interview was interesting, considering it was about share profits and net profits, and a guessed estimate figure for next year’s employment growth. Actually, Kleinzeit found this boring, especially when the men explained why he would be getting a pay cut. ‘You see, Kermit, we are looking for people who have original ideas, for our razor blade advert, not for Bonzo Toothpaste,’ says the first man. ‘You see Kasper, we think that you can’t quite compare with our sparkling team of interesting people.’ says the second. ‘Again, Kolton, your work doesn’t reflect the company in the light we are expecting.’

Happy Russmas!

Ada’ora (13)


Everyone spilled out of the train as if water was being poured out of a jug. How can something look so similar to something else but not be the same as the thing they resemble? Everyone slowly burst out into the bright sunlight. Why is there light and dark, why not one thing? But no there has to be two of everything, not one but two just to confuse everyone. Or is it just me? Do I just stick out like a sore thumb in the crowd?

Happy Russmas!

Anisha (12)


‘Well, have you thought,’ asked Kleinzeit, ‘about the possibility of another me? Or another you? Do you consider me to be me? Or me to be Kleinzeit? Who should I be? ME. A figment of my own imagination? Do I exist…the mirror does not care…I take it, you do not care either…perhaps, I do not care myself. Is it my decision…whether I care, or is it Kleinzeit’s?’

Some phrases I thought I could include somewhere:
‘Sister? Whose sister? Mine?’
‘I see through my heart, not my eyes. I speak through my heart, not my mind.’.

Shazaan (13)


He got up. The train was grinding to a halt. People from all directions were packing up their newspapers, which they had had on the table, but hadn’t even looked at. ‘Ha ha, keep on coming,’ laughed the hospital bed, ‘It’s not long now, only a matter of time.’

‘Until what?’ said Kleinzeit.

‘All in a matter of time, don’t you worry. And when it comes you may not know for you are blinded by your own existence.’

‘Push off,’ said Kleinzeit.

Eddie (13)


As he closed his eyes a vision swam into view, a wheel of fortune that said ‘Who are you?’ It showed types of people, from socialist to communist. I wonder who I am, thought Kleinzeit. Dr Pink came on stage and said, ‘And our next contestant is a man called Kleinzeit!’ Kleinzeit shuffled on stage and walked over to the wheel, which would tell him who he was. He spun it! It revolved very quickly but didn’t slow down … what was happening? He woke up, before staring around him, closing his eyes again.

Benny (12)


People flowed his way, crashing into him as if he wasn’t there. Was he there? If people saw him they would try and avoid him. They would, wouldn’t they? If he was there they would say, ‘Sorry mate’ or ‘pardon me’. But they didn’t … they just pushed past, knocked him off his feet and dived into the bright city above.

‘Come on. Come to me.’ said the hospital bed. ‘If that mean man rushing to get away hurt you I’m sure Sister and her nurses can help. They can let you rest and they won’t disturb you unless necessary. You can eat what you want and everyone will make sure you’re … okay.’

He took one step forward and then one step back, before carrying on up into the city above.

Happy Russmas!

Laura (12)


The bed laughed again. Kleinzeit felt he wanted to go to it, but not to go. ‘You know you want to. The oxygen tanks are ready and the charts are up to be scribbled on. A to B, A to B all the time,’ hummed the hospital bed.

Happy Russmas from Bristol

Jamie (13)


I opened my eyes. A sharp pain flashed through my body. What was it? I tried to get up but the pain was too great. I did not know if it was a serious problem to do with my internal organs or just a tweaked muscle in my back.

Tom (13)


‘Push off,’ said Kleinzeit, as he walked away from the empty mirror and went to his job. He was walking through the underground, hiding his face, and then walked on to one of the trains. He had an attaché case in one hand and in the other under his arm the Thucydides, the Penguin edition of The Peloponnesian War. It was a book he carried around although he had never read it or even started it.

Happy Russmas tomorrow.

Patrick (12)


The webmaster would like to offer huge thanks to the children and Roland for sending these pieces.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Dave Awl 2012

Everyone lives a life that is seen and a life that is unseen. Our dreams are part of our unseen life. We often forget our own dreams and we have no idea whatever of the dreams of others: last night the person next to you in the underground may have ridden naked on a lion or travelled under the sea to the lost city of Atlantis.
— Russell Hoban (1925-2011)
from his book The Moment Under the Moment
In observance of his 87th birthday and the The Slickman A4 Quotation Event (SA4QE)

The photo is from the 2004 edition of the SA4QE, pre-Facebook. (This particular yellow paper was left on the #36 Broadway bus, which is usually just teeming with people who've been riding naked on lions.)

Also posted to Facebook

Monday 5 March 2012

Philip Parrot 2012

And the idea of love? Who told that to the world-child?'
'It didn't have to be told,' said the head. 'This idea arises of itself from that energy of belief that keeps the mountains from exploding and the seas from going up in steam. It's only a kind of cohesion that binds together possibilities that have spun together out of the blackness.'
- from The Medusa Frequency

One day Sister Brute said to her mama, 'All I have is tiredness and kicks and bruises.'
'Maybe that is because you have been loving only a hard stone and a kicking dog,' said Mama Brute.
'What else is there to love?' said Sister Brute.
- from The Little Brute Family or The Stone Doll of Sister Brute (tbc)

"I think it's nice that there are all different kinds of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks. I think eating is nice."
- from Bread and Jam for Frances

Posted to Facebook

Sunday 4 March 2012

Michael Neff 2012

"And the odd thing, you see, is that I don't think that's how I really am. I just can't believe that I'm this muddy thing crawling about in the muck. I don't feel as if I am. I simply can't tell you how I feel inside! Clean and bright and beautiful--like a song in the sunlight, like a sigh in the summer air."

- from The Mouse and His Child

Michael Neff is a bartender and cocktail expert who wrote an article in Serious Eats in December reflecting on Russell Hoban and his love for this book.

Saturday 3 March 2012

Malgorzata Snigurowicz 2012

The above location was outside the Pałac Kultury i Nauki [Palace of Culture and Science]:

There must be a lot of people in the world being wondered about by people who don't see them anymore.
- from Turtle Diary

This piece was left in the Warsaw underground:

I said, "Yes it mus be hard for you with no eyes, you can't even see what youre going in to." He said, "No 1 can. Onlyes diffrents is them with eyes they think they can."
- from Riddley Walker

The third one was on a telephone booth at ul. Foksal [Foksal Street]. By the way, the street was originally named after Vauxhall in London - isn't that a coincidence? 

Some times theres mor in the emty paper nor there is when you get the writing down on it. You try to word the big things and they tern ther backs on you. 
- from Riddley Walker

All the photos were taken in Warsaw, though I don't live there, I was just visiting a friend. In return, she gave me a dog she had found a week earlier. Now that I think about it I should've named him Russell or Riddley - it's all somehow connected in my head. It was freezing cold, so running around the town with yellow paper was somehow extreme, but I couldn't give up!

The slips were spread around Warsaw, but it's Opole where I'm from and where the whole idea of taking part came into being (also where RH's books were read).

Also posted to Facebook

Friday 2 March 2012

Margaret Fulton 2012

Then came the River Bend Nightmare, all of them wearing silvery, spangled costumes. They played a song called River Bottom Rock, and while they played, the coloured lights were making designs and patterns that jumped and shook like lightning on the walls and ceiling. The music roared and crashed and rattled windows all over town while Mary Jane Chipmunk moaned and hollered and screamed into the microphone. 
 - from Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas

"I am growing hard," he said, "And bitter. What a waste of me."
 - from The Marzipan Pig

The Emmet Otter quote was affixed to the glass wall of the bus shelter near my apartment in Seattle.

Also posted to Facebook

Thursday 1 March 2012

Cathy Gray 2012

'I never look for my reveal til its ben.' ... Ready to cry ready to dy ready for any thing is how I come to it now. In fear and tremmering only not running a way. In emtyness and ready to be fult. Not to lern no body nothing I cant even lern my oan self all I can do is try not to get in front of whats coming. Jus try to keap out of the way of it. 
 - from Riddley Walker

Posted to Facebook