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Wednesday, 4 February 2004

David, Veda & Josh Johnson 2004

They say the family that 4Qates together stays together .... or if not they should have said it.

This is my first year to be able to 4Qate and we decided to involve the entire family. Due to a brilliant stroke of serendipity I was laid off from my job last Friday and therefore had the day free to travel around the Dallas area 4Qating at will. The morning, of course was spent preparing our yellow missives. Then a battle plan was drawn and we were off.

My first quote was from Amaryllis Night And Day (pg 56):

After the pizza we went to the sitting-room for video time. Amaryllis ranged the shelves, considering and rejecting various films until she settled on Notorious. 'This is the one I want,' she said. 'Every time I watch it I'm so afraid that they won't get away in the end.'

'I've seen this film many times,' I said, 'and so far they've always made it; after all, the taxi's right there ready to go; it isn't as if they have to hang about waiting for a bus.'

She leant against me briefly. 'I don't take anything for granted any more.' She shook her head. 'Ingrid Bergman was so adorable in this one and now she's dead of cancer.'

'Cary Grant's dead too, and Claude Rains; Alfred Hitchcock as well,' I said. 'It's mainly a dead-people film but there's a lot of life in it.'

'Ghosts,' said Amaryllis. 'And yet sometimes when I'm watching this film I think it's realer than I am.'

'Feeling unreal is part of reality.' I gave her a little hug, just with one arm, delicately.

This was left folded neatly next to a faced out copy of the 'Notorious' DVD at a local video store.

The next quote was also from Amaryllis Night and Day (pg 56) and is the sentence immediately preceding the above passage:

Happiness can be unsettling, like catching a baby that someone has thrown out of a window.

This was left in a stack of free weekly newspapers at a local café (with a headline that discussed "Happy Shiny People").

My third quote was from Riddley Walker (pp 6-7):

Lorna said to me, 'You know Riddley theres some thing in us it don’t have no name.'

I said, 'What thing is that?'

She said, 'Its some kynd of thing it aint us but its in us. Its looking out thru our eye hoals. May be you don't take no noatis of it only some times. Say you get woak up sudden in the middl of the nite. 1 minim youre a sleap and the nex youre on your feet with a spear in your han. Wel it wernt you put that spear in your han it wer that other thing whats looking out thru your eye hoals. It aint you nor it don’t even know your name. Its in us lorn and loan and sheltering how it can.'

Wel I cant say for cern no mor if I had any of them things in my mynd befor she tol me but ever since then it seams like they all ways ben there. Seams like I ben allways thinking on that thing in us what thinks us but it don't think like us. Our woal life is a idear we dint think of nor we dont know what it is. What a way to live.

Thats why I finely come to writing all this down. Thinking on what the idear of us myt be. Thinking on that thing whats in us lorn and loan and oansome.

This was left standing in front of a book on the nature of reality and Spinoza in the philosophy section of a very large used book store.

Finally, my fourth 4Qation came from Fremder (pg 32):

More and more I find that life is a series of disappearances followed usually but not always by reappearances; you disappear from your morning self and reappear as your afternoon self; you disappear from feeling good and reappear feeling bad. And people, even face to face and clasped in each other's arms, disappear from each other.

I flickered out and back as the job required and felt a little fuller of emptiness each time. There's more emptiness in the air than there used to be, and its spores grow flowers of dust in the lungs. Things between Judith and me dwindled month by month until we were no longer part of each other's reality. After half a year of not hearing from me she sent me a photocopy of a pencil-and-sepia drawing by Caspar David Friedrich: a burly eagle owl (Uhu in German) sitting on a coffin that rested on boards laid across a freshly-dug grave. A child's coffin it was, not fully grown. There was no note, that was the whole message and it arrived the day after her suicide was briefly mentioned in the newsfax.

I still think of that child's coffin and the Uhu. Sometimes I see them tumbling over and over in deep space with that figure in the blue coverall. And sometimes when evening comes and that little tribunal of the dusk I remember how, when I first saw Judith, I needed to penetrate her sadness that waited with its face between its knees for the rain.

Each of us have one quote that we saved for a location we could not get to on the appointed day, this was mine and it will be left tomorrow in a large chain bookstore (either Borders or Barnes & Noble).

~ ~ ~ ~

As I mentioned, we decided to make this Hoban Day celebration a family affair. What follows are the quotes chosen by my wife (Veda Johnson) and my son (Josh Johnson).

My wife's first quote was from The Medusa Frequency (pg 16):

There's a photograph of an olive tree among the stones on my desk; when Luise left she wrote on the back of it:

I trusted you with the idea of me
and you lost it.

This was left inside the same local café as one of my quotes.

She then decided to "stage a scene" for the next three quotations. We proceeded to the largest used bookstore in town and she collected copies of Turtle Diary, Riddley Walker and Angelica's Grotto and set them in a stack on a table. She then stacked the three following quotes next to them, handwritten on the signature yellow paper and left them, the books and her pen in hopes that someone would become curious after a time.

Kleinzeit got out of the train, poured into the morning rush in the corridor. Among the feet he saw a sheet of yellow paper, A4 size, on the floor, unstepped-on. He picked it up. Clean on both sides. He put it in his attaché case. He rode up on the escalator, looking up the skirt of the girl nine steps above him. Bottom of the morning, he said to himself.

- from Kleinzeit

Her no-question-asking stalked through the flat like a tall silent creature that stared at Jachin-Boaz all day.

- from The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz

I don't think I've ever seen anyone pick up a box of matches without shaking it. Curious. It takes more time to shake the box than it would to open it straight away but it's less effort. It's pleasant to hear a lot of matches rattling in the box, one has a feeling of plenty. No one wants to open a matchbox and find it empty.

- from Turtle Diary

An interesting editorial note. In The Russell Hoban Omnibus the above quote from Turtle Diary actually says "It's pleasant to hear a lot of marches rattling...." instead of matches. I cannot locate my copy of Turtle Diary to make sure it really is a typo in that edition and not an intentional changing of words, but I am assuming it was an error and have corrected it here.

Her final quote, which also will be left in the same large chain bookstore tomorrow is from The Medusa Frequency (p 75):

In the morning I came awake as I always do, like a man trapped in a car going over a cliff.

~ ~ ~ ~

My son Josh is 12, and as such has not had the opportunity to read most of the novels that his mother and I have enjoyed. He has read a couple and chose 4 quotes to 4Qate. He also chose where they would be left.

His first quotation is from Trouble on Thunder Mountain:

'A hi-tech plastic mountain,' said Dad.

'It takes a man named Flatbrain to think of something like that,' said Jim.

This was left curled around the trunk of a tree in a large planter in the lobby of the Dallas City Hall. His reason for choosing this location was "There are a lot of 'flatbrains' at City Hall" and "a tree in a planter inside a big concrete building seems very plastic mountainish to me."

His second quote was from Jim Hedgehog's Supernatural Christmas (pp.23-24):

The next scene was a deserted street late at night. The fog was so thick that the street lamps only made a feeble glow. Now there was no music, only a sound like the beating of a heart.

Something was coming but it wasn't visible yet. It was coming closer, closer, closer.

SUDDENLY here it was. Jim jumped back and ate the cold baked potato and the peas and carrots and salad without noticing.

This was left in a bin of stuffed toys in the Children's book section of the large used bookstore.

His next quote was once again from Trouble on Thunder Mountain:

Dear Family O'Soupus,

This garbage dump has been reserved for you. We hope you will be pleased with this impravement.

Betterly yours,

A. Worser

Worser could do better with his spelling,' said Jim.

This was left sticking out from between several spelling workbooks at the same used bookstore.

His final quote, which will, per his instructions, be left at a nearby McDonald's Restaurant tomorrow is one more from Jim Hedgehog's Supernatural Christmas (pp.27-28):


'You're too fat to be supernatural,' said Jim.


Overall we had a great day of 4Qating and look forward to making this an annual family outing.

Happy Birthday from Texas Russ,

David, Veda, and Joshua Johnson

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