Showing posts with label Richard Cooper. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Richard Cooper. Show all posts

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, 23 February 2011

Richard Cooper 2011

This 4th February I failed to do any "proper" 4qation beyond posting this to Facebook:
Fidelity is a matter of perception; nobody is unfaithful to the sea or to mountains or to death: once recognized they fill the heart.
- from The Medusa Frequency

My original intention was to 4qate only quotes from Angelica Lost and Found, Russ's latest novel, which I read and enjoyed over Christmas, but failed to do that either. As some might say, "Fail better!" So, unless anybody objects, my personal SA4QE contribution this year is to post my favourite quotes from that novel to this site. Here goes:

Afterwards, lying in his arms, I saw that he was crying.
'What is it, Clance?' I said, and kissed him.
'I can't describe it exactly,' he said. 'There's a great sadness come over me, what a little short thing it is to be alive and so strange. Maybe it's just the whisky.'
'No, it's the sense of loss, something lost so far back we can't remember it.'

There is a jukebox in my head. Coloured lights, bubbles going round into vanishment and reappearing to go round again. I have no choice in what songs are played. Sometimes a lissom cheerleader inserts the coins, sometimes a tattooed truck driver; the mystic arm rises and descends with the silent disc which then blossoms into song and I dance or cry or shake my head accordingly.

Is there a placebo effect, I wondered, for 'Everything is OK'? So if you think it is, it is? I tried it but I didn't really think it was and it wasn't.

A first love is the one that took you to a place you never knew before, so it'll always be part of you.

Did God invent Handel or did Handel invent God? ... 'I know that my Redeemer liveth,' sings the soprano. From what are we redeemed? Original sin? Unoriginal sin? I think uncertainty is what we are redeemed from by this redeemer whom we have invested with the power to redeem us. The extra-strength placebo. If you think it works, it will.

And, unaccountably, it does. Listening to 'Messiah' I feel redeemed.

'You don't look like a shrink,' I said.
'I charge like one though,' he said. 'What can I do for you? If anything.'
'I have a reality problem.'
'That's called life.'
'But I'm living in two realities. Maybe more.'
'I'm trying to understand them, trying to define what they are.'
'So I'll know, so I can deal with them.'
'Knowing won't help. That's a waste of energy. Get practical.'
'It doesn't matter how many realities there are or what they are; just handle them one at a time and do whatever needs to be done.'

- all from Angelica Lost and Found

Friday, 28 January 2011

The long-awaited report! Ruth Bosch and Richard Cooper 2010

For the uninitiated: every year The Kraken, the Russell Hoban fan forum (est. 1998) clubs together to buy a birthday gift - usually a bottle of spirits - for "Russ" as he is affectionately known, and a volunteer hand-delivers it to his London home. In 2010 longtime Krakenites Ruth Bosch and Richard Cooper were the volunteers, and composed a report on the day for sharing with Hoban fans that, by all accounts, was simply spellbinding. However, in a bizarre incident involving a Giant Squid, Putney Bridge and a Klein bottle, the report disappeared and was never heard from again. Richard and Ruth found it understandably difficult to get over this tragedy, and struggled to re-compose themselves, as well as the report. However, we here at Slickman Towers are delighted to say that they have now managed to produce the following account. We hope you enjoy it.

Russell Hoban's birthday 2010, the SA4QE, and the Kraken Birthday Bottle Delivery Event were so rich in so many ways that both of the Birthday Bottle delivery persons have bogged down and rebogged several times in their hopes of recording and sharing the full enjoyment of it with everyone involved. As SA4QE 2011 is close upon us we throw caution and detailed Russellogues to the wind and hope that at least our sense of the beauty of the day finds other beholders.

We approached February 4th with a full set of vibrant Hobanian themes in the abstract and witnessed them being fleshed out, lioned out, yellowed out, and mouse-and-owled out by a graphically obliging universe, with emphatic double-deckerings, undergroundings, and apocalypticisms thrown in for ambience.

As if the world weren’t enough as it is.

Here are some photos and recollections of the day, in chronological order, with comments by Richard (RC) and Ruth (RB). Richard started the day at home near London and Ruth, at home in Paris, meeting mid-morning by Fulham Broadway tube station and proceeding Russwards.

Getting there

RC: Early in the morning I opened The Medusa Frequency, the first Hoban book I read and still my favourite, and found my 4-year-old son Joe had been practising his letters on a yellow post-it in an appropriate place. Copying "The Slickman A4 Quotation Event" he only got as far as "The Slick Joe" but that didn't seem an unreasonable statement.

It was between six and seven in the morning. The moon was low in the sky. It was a waxing moon, a gibbous one; it was a particular moon. I raised the window-blind. The pinky-orange hibiscus street lamp outside the window was the same as always. I opened the front door and went out into the foredawn, into the hissing of the silence and the humming of the underground trains standing empty with lighted windows on the far side of the common. Unseen birds twittered but there was no crow to shout and flaunt its blackness.

I heard my footsteps; I saw under the lamps my shadows first before me, then behind. 'Nothing to declare,' I said.

- from The Medusa Frequency

RC: The tawniness of the lion was in him.

RC: I 4Qated myself with this custom t-shirt, featuring the SA4QE logo on the front and a favourite quote about yellow paper on the back.

One of the earliest symptoms is a growing dread of blank paper, and at this stage preventative action may still have some effect ... I always use 80-gram yellow A4; it’s the kind of yellow the paper manufacturers call gold, and gold is what one is trying to refine the base metal of one’s thoughts into ... I never use white paper - to intensify the blankness of a blank sheet by using white paper is to run to meet trouble considerably more than halfway.
- from Blighter's Rock (The Moment under The Moment)

RC: Another customisation, a sticker on the boot of my car which I drove to the station to hopefully arouse the interest of fellow motorists. Can't think of a suitable motoring Hoban quote though except for the one about Harold Klein getting run over by a London bus.


RB: Papier jaune sur le Paris metro.

RC: checking contributions to the website on the train, armed with coffee and Kleinzeit.
Sister stood holding the helmet, listening to the clink of money falling into it. I don't know if this is right, she said to God.
What's wrong with it? said God.
Is it, I don't know, heathenish? said Sister.
You've got to move with the times, said God.
Are we talking about the same thing? said Sister.
One usually does, said God. I mean how much is there to talk about really. It's pretty much all one thing, isn't it.
- from Kleinzeit

Meeting there

RB: In Fulham Road on the way to Russ's. Richard models HAT inherited from Eli Bishop during the 2007 Riddley Walker adventure in Ireland. Excellent to have a red London bus and a flying lion in there too.

Being there

RC: Arriving at Russell Hoban's house, we were pleasantly surprised to find some yellow paper on the front door. This turned out not to be a 4qation but rather a note from Russ to his postman saying "Please keep knocking and ringing - I am hard of hearing."

RC: Russell Hoban with the 2010 birthday gifts from The Kraken - a bottle of Glenfarclas single malt whisky, a DVD set of the films of Jan Svankmajer, and, courtesy of Ruth, some exclusive chocolates from Paris. The chocolates themselves were in a small bowl itself made of chocolate, complete with a pair of chocolate chopsticks, or "chocsticks" as Russ dubbed them. Ruth apologised that the chocolates were of normal sugar content and thus probably not on doctor's orders, given Russ's condition. "Oh, don't worry," said Russ. "I'm not a career diabetic."

RB: Russ was splendid. One of the best things was having the chance to tell him that if he had only given us his books it would be quite enough, more than, but he has also given us Kraken friends and that is something. 

RB: Russ with Richard. Behind them is the TV on which Russ watches a different movie (or sometimes two) every day.

RC: Not pictured here are all the things we chatted about - far too many to remember, but certainly we talked about Ruth's job as an antique fan-restorer, and the two Americans shared their recollections of home. At one point Ruth said "More importantly..." which inspired Russ to comment that the correct construction was "more important". This point turned up as a niggle of one of the characters in Russ's 2010 novel Angelica Lost and Found. Speaking of which...

RC: Russociate Jake Wilson popped over while we were there. A documentary film-maker in his own right, Jake was later to be found listed among the acknowledgees in Angelica Lost and Found, for reading the manuscript at varying stages of composition. Russ had a proof copy with him during our meeting and Jake commented approvingly on the cover, which featured the Girolamo da Carpi reproduction as found on the version you can now buy. Apparently there was an earlier cover which wasn't as good. The two chatted for a few moments about 3:10 to Yuma, a classic western they'd both recently been investigating.

RC: Russ flicking through Jake's birthday gift, a copy of Tippoo's Tiger from The Victoria and Albert Museum.

RB: The business end of two distinct synchronicities were also delivered by Jake, unbeknownst to him. The subject matter of both had been cleverly and variously introduced by Life in the guise of my friend Jean-Yves during the week or two preceding the trip to London. Synchronicity #1: Jean-Yves asked if I had seen the large musical automaton, Tippoo's Tiger, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, describing it in detail it when I said I hadn’t. It was a bit odd, as I had been to the museum so many times and it’s the kind of thing I love and would tend to remember, but I drew a blank. Jean-Yves’ description stayed vivid in my mind and I hoped to go and see it when in London.

I was sitting across from Russ as he unwrapped Jake's gift, the new book about “Tippoo’s Tiger”. Jake had played the organ inside the tiger for a documentary made by the V&A,

Synchronicity #2: During those same Londonimminent days I was walking alone on the street near my house in an unfocussed sort of way,  hallucinating sideways and without conscious intent into walking in the same place with Jean-Yves. Both of us looked at the sidewalk and saw a trail of coins. The sense of this was so strong that my non-hallucinating self pulled itself together to look down at the sidewalk and lo, a line of coins, 1 Euro and 15 cents, as it turned out.

Jake told us a story about dreaming and childhood and the way he and his brothers discovered they were sharing the same dream, this primarily having to do with the way they told each other about it, knowing it must be so because every one of them had the evidence of his own recent memory. Their shared dream was of looking at the ground and finding a trail of coins. I know this is not an unusual theme, but the story continued for me in a way that made it more remarkable. I later told it to another friend, and she related it to her husband when they were walking in the woods. They stopped walking as she finished telling the story, both of them looked at the ground and saw 14 pennies scattered across their path.

When I first started reading Russ's books I was neverendingly amazed at the way they "happened" to me. They were three-dimensional events, series of events, that coincided precisely with whatever else was happening in my life. They coincided in ways that were exactly like the things that happened in his books and the intersection showed a plane of existence that I knew.

RB: Tulips for Gundula (Mrs Hoban), on the floor of Russ's kitchen along with some pussy-willows (hidden by the red wrapping paper) and a quantity of Gundula's market-stall stock.

RC/RB: We left after a very happy hour, as Russ had to have his lunch, and so did we. 

Lunching there

RC: The window display of the delightful Fulham cafe where Ruth and I had lunch.

RC: Checking Facebook for yellow paper updates.
RB: 4qating our dining table with the words:

One assumes that the world simply is and is and is, but it isn't. It is like music that we hear a moment at a time and put together in our heads. But this music, unlike other music, cannot be performed again.

- from Pilgermann

4qating there: wandering westwards

RB: Yellow pages, meet yellow paper!

RC: We walked from Embankment tube to Trafalgar Square. Seen here 4qating one of the lions with Ruth's aforementioned Pilgermann quote.
RB: Richard expressed some concern about "4qating by the lion's bum".
RC: I don't remember saying that.
RB: You did. It was delightful.
RC: I'll take your word for it!

RB: Richard at the bottom of Nelson's Column. It was a deceptively long way up onto the plinth. I almost didn't get down again.

RB/RC: We passed through Chinatown...

RB: 4qating in Old Compton Street, Soho:
Loneliness is the essential human condition. Everything else is gravy.

- originally quoted by Emmae Gibson

Tea-and-cakeing there

RB/RC: We stopped into this suitably-coloured cafe, The Profile.

RB: Yellow paper at the Profile.

RC: The decor matched the SA4QE website :-)

RC: Yellow paper and the absence of Ruth. Quoted tabularly:

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.
- by HP Lovecraft from The Call of Cthulhu
(quoted by RH in The Medusa Frequency)

RB: 4qating the greetings card display in a nearby gift shop with the previously-mentioned Lovecraft/Medusa quote.

Roading there

RC: By now the sun had well and truly set, but our 4qday still had some life in it. We had another place to be, appropriately enough near Russell Square.

RB: We actually got here via Holborn tube. The Pilgermann quote was re4qated, being here the mummy of all Hoban quotes.

RC: Heading for dinner at Hoban favourite Il Fornello we passed 90 High Holborn, offices of the law firm Olswang, which looks like a giant yellow paper drop. (HT to Hugh Bowden.)

RC: The Hotel Russell, Bloomsbury, near Russell Square.

Drinking there

RC: with fellow 4qater Deena Omar.

RC: Saying goodbye to Ruth B.

Homeing there

RC: SA4QE day ends for another year. But stay tuned!

(c) Bosch-Cooper Productions 2010. All wrongs reserved.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Russell Hoban at the Serpentine Map Marathon, 16 October 2010

Russell Hoban onstage
Last weekend Russell Hoban made a rare public appearance - an onstage interview for Map Marathon: Maps for the 21st Century, a multimedia event featuring dozens of writers, artists and academics hosted by the Serpentine Gallery at the Royal Geographical Society, London. During the interview Russell talked about the "mystique" of maps and the part they have played in his work, and his new novel Angelica Lost and Found. The SA4QE event and The Kraken Hoban community also got a mention. A number of SA4QE/Kraken stalwarts were in attendance including Anthony Davis, who takes us back there now. A transcript of the interview is included below.


Travel difficulties / delays apart, and despite being without a MAP at the crucial moment requiring a circumnavigation of the Royal Albert Hall, all turned to the good! Peering into the dark of the RGS's lecture theatre soon revealed the features of some well-known Krakenites, and I even had a seat reserved where I could witness Gilbert and George, rather tangentially, reading their 'mapping' of postcards that, to their eye, featured the Union Flag (they know so much better than to call it the Union Jack!), i.e. a list, in alphabetical order, of the largely arbitrary - and not without a comic bent - titles that they had given to these cards whose collection they had so dutifully curated; likewise their mapping of 'telephone [box] cards', but only those that - to their mind - left something to the imagination.

For me, seeing these icons of the gay art world and hearing them talk about their maps of county towns and seaside resorts was a very fitting prelude to Russ's own session, and one which made the whole protracted jurney (sure some Riddley?) quite worthwhile, as, of course, did seeing Russ again and a no. of Hobanites, old and new.

Eleanor Bron started the session with a lovely reading from the start of The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz, although I really don't know how she kept her composure with the noise and bustle of people re-taking their seats, and generally milling around the lecture-space as if no thought-out and sensitive rendition were being given. [The reading is available from Thoughtcat as a 3mb mp4 audio file; you will need to turn up the volume as it is quite soft.] Russ was then helped, with the support of a clearly much-needed arm (that of his would-be interviewer and host, Hans Ulrich Obrist), down, across and up to and into one of the padded chairs to the right of the lectern: his physical frailty was patent, and I'm sure that everyone watching (not just those who knew him) must have felt for the effort that he was making just to be present at this event.

Hans Ulrich Obrist (l) with Russell Hoban
So much was Russ enjoying being there, though, that it was evident not only in his mental liveliness, but also in his quirkily engaging quality and character of speech, which were immediately to the fore in his first answer. Coupled with these was the comfortable way in which he was clearly sensing the room and its occupants, as the professional communicator that he is. (In fact, he could be seen, once settled into his chair, already putting out what one could call tentacles or feelers for this purpose.)

After first answering a question about Lion that arose from the reading, Russ had politely, but definitely, to decline to address the second one put to him [of whether he thought that the "master map" that Jachin-Boaz wanted to make for his son to "show him where to find whatever he might wish to look for" was a kind of precursor to the Internet; "Can I dodge that question?" Hoban responded, to the delight of much of the audience]. I felt this exchange spoke volumes about the lack of preparation on the part of the interviewer, in establishing a rapport with Russ: I am guessing that, otherwise, he would not have offered a lead that was felt to be so inappropriate that Russ seemed quickly to have decided that he would prefer to answer a different question and volunteer some information.

I'm not definite about this, because I obviously imagined that the question asked was going to be turned to, and Russ then talked about something else, but I think that what he had been presented with was a too circumscribed way of inviting him to share feelings about his works and their genesis: I believed at the time, and still do, that overstepping a question to present material that one would have one's audience hear, rather than just the response to some tired or otherwise vexing or uninteresting enquiry, must have been the right one. (I know from talking to Russ that he, rightly, does not reward poor questions with his attention, and I think that it is because he simply doesn't find any life in them, and so the questioner is punished, in a way, with an impoverished answer.)

I had been glad to learn, from his answer to a question about Riddley [see below], that he had used maps in writing it, both an early Ordnance Survey map of Kent, and one, of a futuristic nature, that projected that a former channel of water would reopen, separating the rest of the county from an area that he called The Ram. For me, this fuels an existing desire to be guided around the lands over which Riddley roams (and from which others have come), and to do so in, on and around a vehicle with a like-minded crew, willing to absorb the sights, sounds, drinks and other delicacies in a joint exploration of what this very different county tells us about the places in which Russ placed the unfolding of his story. 

The interview

The following is a transcription of the interview from an audio recording by Richard Cooper. The recording started in the middle of the answer Russell Hoban was giving to the above "dodged" question about maps and the Internet.

Map from Treasure Island (Wikipedia)
RH: ... As a boy I used to send away to the Canadian-Pacific Railways for their maps and they sent me these wonderful maps with the provinces and the states in different colours and blue for the oceans, and maps are a - how can I say... er, take Robert Louis Stevenson's book Treasure Island - every edition, whether hardback or paperback, has that map in the front, and you look at that map and you know good things are in store for you. [laughter] And that is more often that not connected to action - you look at a map because you want to get somewhere to do something. Sometimes it's just you look at a map to know where you are. And when you first approached me about this stuff I began to think about maps and it hit me all of a sudden that maps were the precursor of language. And I was thinking - we don't know whether prehistoric man, Cro-Magnon man, had language or not, but I was imagining a couple of Cro-Magnon guys, and one of them wants to tell the other where he saw a herd of mammoth. And first of all he would have to establish the man he was talking to himself, so maybe he marked something in the dirt with a stick, make a stick figure or maybe just some kind of a mark, and then he would have to indicate time somehow - it was time behind him, it was yesterday, he saw the herd of mammoth by a river and there was a big rock. And so then he would scratch in the dirt the river and something that indicated the passage of time, say the sun going up and down, and that would be the first map. And from that map he had language. And now you get into a taxi and the driver has a satnav, and [inaudible] maps of the heavens, so it all began with a guy drawing with a stick in the dirt.

HUO: What about your own maps? Do you have a collection? Gilbert and George talked about the huge collection they have of maps, do you collect maps?

RH: I have often used maps. When I wrote Riddley Walker I had a copy of the first ordnance map, I think it was the very first one which was during the Victorian period, and I also had a put-together composite of the ordnance survey maps for the area that I was working in, and I had this up on the wall, it's a big thing, and I also had a chart of the Thames Estuary, which indicated places that I needed to refer to. And I have smaller maps that showed parts of Kent that I was working in. And the maps are always a strong support and a kind of inspiration - as I say there is a mystique about maps that I have responded to all my life, and working on those maps, with those maps, I got Riddley Walker done, and I also drew a map of my own which I put together with the help of - I forget the organisation they were with, it might have been an agricultural college, I don't know - who showed me how in the future the Wansum Channel between one part of Kent and the other would probably open again, so there would be water flowing between the main body of Kent and the other part, which in my book is called The Ram.

HUO: Are there other books of yours with maps?

RH: Well, The Mouse and His Child has a little map in it, and The Trokeville Way has a map in the front. Oh and I'm also thinking apropos of Stevenson's map in Treasure Island, in Edgar Allen Poe's story The Gold Bug I believe there was a map too. And maps are frequently used in thrillers, you know, where the bad guys are after the map that the good guy has, and there are... I think that as a boy we may have sometimes played chase games in which one person had a map.

HUO: I am curious to know about your latest novel, Angelica Lost and Found. Any connection to maps there? If not, I am curious to know anyhow, it would be great to hear about your new book.

RH: Well [laughs], it's a funny thing, when I wrote the book, it didn't seem out of the ordinary to me. It happened to be about a hippogriff who falls in love with a flesh-and-blood woman. The hippogriff is an imaginary animal, and this imaginary animal falls in love with the flesh-and-blood woman, and they achieve intimacy [laughter], and one thing leads to another all through the book, and the imaginary animal has a voice in the narration. And as I say, when I wrote it [there was] nothing remarkable about it, and then I'm trying to figure out where it was coming from. And in 1997 having read Barbara Reynolds's wonderful, wonderful translation of Orlando Furioso I wanted to do something with the characters and the ideas that were in it. And I tried to do something with the hippogriff, whom I called Volatore, and it went on for two pages and fizzled out, and I couldn't see what to do with it. And then a couple of years ago I took out a folder I had called Ariosto Revudebus[?] - I looked at my notes and there was nothing there, and I began to think of another way of doing it, so that's when I started writing Angelica Lost and Found, and that impetus carried me along to the end of it. I might say that the main stimulus that got me started on it was a painting which is reproduced on the cover of the Italian edition of Orlando Furioso, and the painting is by Girolamo da Carpi, a 16th-century Italian painter, and it shows Ruggiero mounted on a hippogriff rescuing Angelica from the sea-monster called Orca. And this painting is interesting because - it's on the cover of the book Angelica Lost and Found - the painting is interesting because first of all it differs from previous paintings by da Carpi, like his Madonna and Child: this painting is almost naive in its rawness, and oddly Angelica is squeezed into a corner held behind a rock, and you can't even see her whole body, you can't see her too clearly, and over here in the sky is this hippogriff with Ruggiero sitting on it and raising his sword. And that painting stayed in my mind. And that was how I got started thinking about what to do with these characters, Ruggiero, Angelica and the hippogriff, and that's the novel.

HUO: I have one more question and that is, I hear a rumour that every year on your birthday, your many fans, also known as the Kraken Club, leave quotes from your work on yellow paper in many places they hope will be picked up. I read also that one member left 33 quotes in 29 locations all across London, which is almost connected to mapping. Can you tell us about this fan club?

RH: Well I don't remember how The Kraken came into being [we do! - Ed], but it did and as you say they ... select quotes from my books and they type them on yellow paper. I use yellow A4 - people ask me why it's yellow A4, and it's because when I was in America I would read many books that would say "The man had a plain deal table on which was a ream of ordinary foolscap". I thought what was foolscap? Maybe it's a kind of paper they make fools' caps[?] out of*. When I got to London I found out foolscap was a size, but I still thought of it as being yellow paper, and that is why I write on A4 yellow paper.

HUO: Thank you so much Russell, thank you very much. [applause]

* Richard notes: This bit of the audio was difficult to hear and the connection with foolscap and yellow doesn't really make sense; there is more information on the SA4QE FAQ page about Russell Hoban's choice of paper. Coincidentally though a Google search I did to try and shed light on this turned up this curious Fool’s Cap Map of the World.

Following Russ's appearance, the attendant Hoban fans filed out of the auditorium in an effort to say hello to their man. Anthony takes up the narrative again.

Anthony provides light for Russ to sign
One of the photographers for the event had asked Russ if he could walk 100 metres to where a studio had been set up, and he had had to decline to take those steps (pun intended). Instead, then, some shots were then taken of him in front of a temporary - and easily overlooked, by those such as I - barrier between the public areas and the stage door [see the result on the Serpentine's Facebook page], so, at this point, Gundula [Russell's wife] said that Russ was in need of a glass of something. When she said that the whiksy (hic / sic!) that I happened to have about my person would be too much, investigating the environs allowed me to rustle up (pun intended!) a glass of Merlot. It was then decided that occupying a free table in the bar was the best way around giving 'hospitality space' to Russ, which had not otherwise been forthcoming, and also to his guests.

Gundula and he had been so kind, and had bought wine for everyone (two bottles each of red and white from the bar - I should rephrase that: they weren't buying two bottles of wine for each person, but four bottles to serve us all!).

Russ and I had a chance to talk about a few things [and he also chatted to the other Hoban fans present and signed books they'd brought]. Maybe / maybe not (in a flicker sort of way) you weren't there yourself - but had you thought that you might have been there on a map that Russ might compile of all of us here to keep us close and near, which he might have in his breast-pocket, or even in his heart...?

See the full set of peter morrison's photos on Flickr (also featuring several other contributors to the Map Marathon)