- Dear all,
I am very sorry to have to pass on the news that Russ has passed away.
The initial news came via Gollancz publisher's Twitter account. I
queried it with them and they attributed the news to Russ's agents,
David Higham Associates. That is about as official as I can get at the
moment without actually contacting David Higham, although that would
appear to be sadly academic by now.
There are scores of tributes coming in via Twitter including this one
from Walker Books, quoting Russ's editor David Lloyd (you don't have
to be on Twitter to view the link):
For the record this says as follows:
"Dear brilliant Russell. We took it in turns to read to him at the
end. His wife read Bassho. His son read Elmore Leonard. I read Robert
Louis Stephenson. The world will sound so different without him.
"Thank you Russell.
"Your words have been our delight."
I am sure we will all agree with that.
I'll post again if I hear anything more.
Once again, I'm sorry for being the bearer of sad tidings.
Love to all,
- ----- Forwarded Message -----
From: alastair bickley <alastairbickley@...>
To: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wednesday, 21 December 2011, 10:17
Subject: Re: [the-kraken] Re: Russell Hoban
just caught up with this primal birthday email, the Pre-Kraken, at long last, (due to extreme busyness and a truly rubbish laptop)... It's wonderful to see where it all began, long before my own discovery, if not of Russ's writing, then certainly of the Kraken, and a good time to bring it to everyone's attention. Thanks...
Reiterated Christmas greetings to all,
From: Dave Awl <dayvoll@...>
Sent: Wednesday, 14 December 2011, 22:49
Subject: [the-kraken] Re: Russell Hoban
> > I'm emotional, of course, but let's not forget that you, Dave, were responsible for almost single-handedly championing Russ's works on the internet long before The Kraken and the Guardian and the rest helped to give him that legendary cult status.Ah, thanks, Chris -- that means a lot to me. And I know this community -- just the fact of our existence -- meant a lot to Russ. He let us know that again and again.
> > I remember the early days of the internet, how difficult it was to find out ANYTHING about Russ in those days... and then hearing from you out of the blue, not long after I arrived in NZ in 1997 (I think?).
> > Thanks for all your Russ-related work to date - and for helping to make this community and all these warm friendships possible. It will always be of value to me, as I'm sure it is to everyone else here.
I go back to that email he sent me in 2002, during the period when he was participating here:
> "It took me a while to join up with the Kraken but now I don't know how I got along so long without that bunch of charming weirdos. When I was a child I used to have long-distance-communication fantasies. I made cardboard radios with unlimited range and imagined conversations with far distant respondents. Now it seems I have that with the Kraken and it's not only a lot of fun but also informative and supportive."It was Evelyn Leeper who put me in touch with you, BTW, in the spring of 1998 as I was putting the site together before launch. Don't know what became of her, but Evelyn was also the one who tipped Russ off about the site, so she played a key role in the early days before moving on.
In the late 90s I think Russ was genuinely worried that he and his books might be forgotten when he passed on ... pretty much all of his work was out of print in the US at that point, and he said that seeing the site comforted him because it proved that he still existed.
I think one of my favorite memories is the email birthday card we all put together in 1999, which was his first birthday after the site was launched and I guess the first Hoban Day we celebrated as a community. This was before I'd even set up The Kraken, and a couple of years before the SA4QE got off the ground. But I thought it would be fun to surprise Russ on his birthday somehow ... and I'd felt like a little community was forming among the group of us who were posting in the Head of Orpheus guestbook, and emailing back and forth.
So, I decided to ask all the Hoban fans I was in touch with to send me short birthday messages for Russ a week or so before the day, and then I bundled them all up into an email for Russ and sent it to him on the 4th (actually late on the 3rd), with the subject line "Birthday Greetings from Around the World."
I think it really knocked him for a loop, and maybe brought it home to him for the first time that he truly did have a global community of fans. The email he sent back, a while later, had the subject line "CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING CLEVER."
Which, for Russ, said it all.
Just for fun, here's the whole thing. I'm somewhat boggled to rediscover that the great Jonathan Lethem was among the contributors. I didn't know who he was in those days -- but he's certainly made his name in the years since. I'm pretty sure his contribution came via Laura Miller, who was the Books editor at Salon and whom I was in touch with at that point because of a piece she'd written about Russ.
Anyhow, looking this over now, it sort of looks like a Facebook Wall before Facebook even existed. Pretty pleased to have scooped Zuckerberg on that one.
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 23:56:33 -0500
To: Russell Hoban
From: Day Voll
Subject: BIRTHDAY GREETINGS FROM AROUND THE WORLD...
Hey Russ, there are some folks here who say they have a message for you. I tried to send them away, but they wouldn't take no for an answer.
Dear Mr. Hoban: Happy Birthday! Thank you for all of your wonderful books!
Peter Breslin, Santa Fe NM
Best wishes for a happy, healthy year -- and we're ready to set up that NYC reading as soon as you want to come visit all your fans in the States.
Laura Miller, Senior Editor, Salon Internet
Hipyo brithdva, Mr Hoban.
Andrew Buchanan. Hong Kong
Dear Mr. Hoban,
Birthday greetings from the mountains of North Carolina, where the Last Visible Dog leaping up in the south cheers my heart as I walk my granddog these dark nights, and where my grandson is mastering his string beans. Thank you for wonders past and to come. Thank you for the amazing books I've read and those waiting. May you live long and prosper.
Yours, Jane Hyde, Asheville NC, USA
HAPPY BIRTHDAY RUSS FROM YOUR COLORADO/CALIFORNIA CONTINGENT
Best wishes for more years and more books You are one cool guy and our favorite writer
love, Byron and Alida
Dear Mr. Hoban,
I am pleased to wish you a happy birthday and hope you have many more. A selfish wish: I am also hoping you continue to write wonderful books.
Sandra Smith, Deepest Green Swamp, Florida
A very happy electronic birthday wish to you. I look forward eagerly to the publication of Angelica's Grotto. Your work gives me immense pleasure, long may it continue; some need reminding that there was/is life after Riddley W.!
Sincere best wishes,
Dear Mr. Hoban --
Happy Birthday from Brooklyn. You are a writer's writer -- this writer's writer, for sure. Be sure to write a few more novels, will you?
Best, Jonathan Lethem
Sincere congratulations to you on your birthday. Your writing has changed my life profoundly, so it's mildly ironic that the only thing I can find to say on this occasion is: Thank you. I wish you many happy returns, hope you have an extraordinary day and an opportunity to share it with your family. All the best,
Chris Bell, Waiuku, New Zealand
Hello.. best wishes for a happy birthday... I grew up with your children's books, and, in time, discovered your novels... I think my favorite remains The Medusa Frequency. My father (Victor) knew you when you lived in Wilton (he lived there with his first wife and two children).
Take care, Vicky Livoti Norwalk, CT USA
HAPPY BIRTHDAY -- Russell Hoban--
Just wanted to say I've thoroughly enjoyed your novels and hope to be reading more of them in the future. RIDDLEY WALKER is a masterpiece.
Fred Runk Tucson, Arizona USA
We wish Mr. Hoban the merriest of birthdays! May you have all the joy of the mouse child in finding a group of loving companions to share your life. Your reading family is widespread. We wish you a light heart on this day!
Katie and Kathleen Maugeri, Haddonfield, New Jersey, USA
Happy birthday Mr. Hoban,
thanks for some of the most enjoyable moments of my reading life. You've directed my interest to various topics which are still a great source of joy, contemplation, thinking and inspiration. Every one of your books deserves some kind of sabbatical, a long time for reading and contemplating and afterwards reconfiguring what seemed to be everyday reality. I'm really looking forward to Angelica's Grotto, The Sea-Thing Child and all your future works. All the best to you, good health,
"Keap you wel",
Olaf Schneider, Jakobusstr.2, 33604 Bielefeld,Germany
"The worl is ful of things waiting to happen". I am thankful that you have happened to me. Happy Birthday All bes.
Kerry Power, Melbourne, Australia
Dear Mr. Hoban -
Happy birthday from a lifetime reader who has delighted in your books at age 5, 14, 19, 23, 29, 32, 34.... and who looks forward eagerly to those yet to be discovered.
Love and thanks,
Janis Van Court, New Hartford, NY
Happy Birthday from the wilds of New Jersey, and wishes for many more to come.
It is daunting to try and express a deeply felt sentiment to so accomplished a word smith. This is compounded by the dreamlike quality engendered by even contemplating a correspondence with one held in such high regard.
The most direct way to state my feelings, is this: you profoundly changed my understanding of what literature could achieve, of what art might aspire to and what story telling was. Granser, Drop John, Lorna, Auntie and Riddley have all taken up residence in my psyche. They have become the measure against which all enterprises of the imagination are measured.
Happy Birthday and very many more
-Greg Roach, Seattle, Washington
It's Russell Hoban's birthday
With joy we both are smitten
For without dear Mr Hoban
Riddley Walker would be unwritten!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RUSSELL HOBAN...AND MANY MORE!
Nancy & John Ross, Paso Robles, California, USA
Well, a birthday isn't such a bad thing to have. In fact, a birthday is a good thing to have. We should have more birthdays. More birthdays! More often! Would more frequent birthdays make us older, or just jollier? Or would having birthdays all the time get tiresome? All that cake, all those candles, all that giving and receiving of gifts, the wrapping and unwrapping. Then it would be like work. Not like work, like a job. I'm at my job now. Thinking of you and your birthday. I should be doing job things. But instead I'm thinking about you and wishing you a very pleasant birthday, and many joyous returns of the day. But just one a year, I think. I think we've settled that. With best wishes for great happiness, improved health, and a truly delicious birthday cake, I remain
Diana Slickman, Chicago, Illinois USA
and now I'll add my own voice to the chorus:
Happy Birthday, Russ! Getting to know you has been by far the most fun thing thing that's happened to me in the past year.
Dave, Chicago, IL
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]