SA4QE - The Slickman A4 Quotation Event

This fan event began in 2002 as a unique way of spreading the words of Russell Hoban. Every 4th February (Russell's birthday), readers around the world write their favourite quotations from his books on sheets of yellow A4 paper (the sort he used) and leave them in public places, and/or share them via this site or on social media with the hashtags #sa4qe and/or #russellhoban

  • Read Diana Slickman's article about how SA4QE began
  • The most recent posts to this site are displayed below in descending order.

    SA4QE 2015 - Alida Allison - Colorado, United States

    My first quote for 2015 is from Hoban’s 1975 The Sea-Thing Child. The second quote is from the novel Pilgermann, published in 1983, set during the Crusades, and said by the Jewish Pilgermann to his Muslim friend Bembel Rudzuk near the end of the story.

    That night the sea-thing child heard the air humming. He looked up at the sky for the star that he always looked at, but it was blotted out. He could not see the star with his eyes, but in the dark of his mind he saw it burning and flickering over the sea. The humming of the air grew louder, and the sea-thing child stepped out of his double circle and faced into the wind. The ocean was high and wild, and the sky and the sea roared together, heaving in the dark.

    The sea-thing child spread his wings to keep from falling down, and the wind blew him backwards. He moved forwards against the wind, then he began to run, faster and faster. The beach slipped away under him, he laughed, and flapped his wings and flew up into the storm.

    'To me it seems that the best we can hope for in this life is honesty of error; more than that is just not to be expected.'

    Filed under Colorado United States Pilgermann The Sea-Thing Child

    SA4QE 2015 - Diana Slickman - Chicago Illinois, United States

    I got a late start this year. Around 9 p.m. I left work, clutching my yellow paper and a roll of tape, and headed to the Howard Street terminal of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). I had it in mind to post a my quote at the station, which is the terminus for 3 train lines and a number of bus lines serving the north side. The quote, from Linger Awhile, was printed out in a large legible font on two sheets and handwritten on one. One of the printed sheets I folded up and put into the receipt tray of a vending machine that dispenses tickets and passes for the CTA. I boarded a red line train, going south, thinking I'd tape a quote to the back of a seat or some place but I was presented with a better opportunity. On the train, near the doors, are holders for placards, usually for announcements about service disruptions or changes. The one in the car I was in was empty. It happens that the CTA uses almost the same color of yellow as our A4 paper for these alerts and it happens that my yellow paper fit perfectly into the the holder. I begged the pardon of the young man sitting below this holder and slipped my quote into the frame. I exited at the next stop and while waiting for a northbound train to take me back to the Howard terminal, I taped my handwritten quote onto the corner of a large McDonald's advertisement, because the golden arches matched my paper. "I'm Lovin' It!" the billboard said.
    "Yeah, right," the quote replied. Here's what was posted.

    The trains were not crowded and none of the passengers were talking into little telephones or smiling as they tapped out text messages. Some were reading books or newspapers. All of the faces, young, old, male, female, white and brown and black, were part of the many faces of the great sad thing that moves itself from here to there and back again in all forms of transport.

    Selected, as per my usual procedure, the book from the stack, the page from the book, the quote from the page, pretty much at random. I added the name of the book and, of course, the author and "This quote was placed here as part of an annual world-wide event that takes place on February 4th to celebrate Russell Hoban’s birthday, the man, and his works. Your finding it and reading it are part of the celebration. Cheers!"

    I went home and uncorked a bottle of 16-year old raw cask Bowmore that I keep on hand for special occasions and toasted Russ. I thought of the quote, riding the train all night, down to the city's far south side and back up north again, being noticed, or not, by the few passengers who would not be talking or texting, and I thought of the CTA worker who would find it in the morning as he or she cleaned out the train, bundled up against a very cold February day. Here's to them. And to all of you who 4Qated this year. And, of course, to 90 years of Russ!

    Filed under Chicago Illinois United States Linger Awhile

    SA4QE 2015 - Katy W - Colchester, United Kingdom

    For the last few years I have put up quotes in my village for sa4qe on my own, so it was lovely to be able to do it this year with my boyfriend, Rik, whom I met through a conversation on Twitter about Hoban. We bonded through our mutual love of The Medusa Frequency in particular. I live next to a river and wanted my first quote - sellotaped to the local lifebuoy - to be one of Hoban's lyrical evocations of the natural world; this mix of lyricism and natural elements feels romantic too.

    Hear the earth say itself, say itself ponderous with evening, turning to the night

    What passes for reality seems to me mostly a load of old nonsense invented by not very inventive minds. The reality that interests me is strange and flickering and haunting

    Rik and I wandered along to the river jetty. While he was taping up his quote on one side of this, I taped my second one to the other side. This quote is a perennial favourite, showing Hoban's trademark profundity and comedy, and one I feel random strangers should be subjected to regularly. We were watched by two men on a nearby boat, one of whom later sauntered over to investigate and then grinned as he walked past us.

    Sometimes in the small hours of the morning, while [X] sleeps peacefully beside me, I sit up in the dark, feeling myself and the world moving from the known to the unknown...

    My final quote went up on the village Notice Board. Coming from the last page of Fremder, when the character feels optimistic and romantic, when the world feels full of 'becoming', this has personal resonance (I took out the name of Fremder's girlfriend so the piece could be read as a woman speaking in the first person too).

    What passes for reality seems to me mostly a load of old nonsense invented by not very inventive minds. The reality that interests me is strange and flickering and haunting

    Lastly, we went to the local village shop where I left smaller versions of my quotes under or on baked bean tins, jelly packets, pots of baking soda. Rik was official quote-on-tin photographer as well as the 'look-out', ensuring our Hobanesque antics weren't spotted by the staff. I like the idea of people lifting a food tin and finding a Hoban quote under it about the nature of reality.

    Filed under Colchester United Kingdom Fremder The Medusa Frequency The Moment under The Moment

    SA4QE 2015 - Yvonne Studer - Zürich, Switzerland

    SA4AE 2015
    This year I felt a bit nostalgic and sad on Russ's birthday. So, rather than to venture out into the cold, I decided to stay at home and share my quotation only on Facebook (and here). In a note, I added the story of how I visited Russ for the very first time. After printing out the quotation on yellow paper and taking a photo of it placed next to one of the beautiful illustrations in a new edition of the book it came from I made it my Facebook cover photo.

    "The real thing is always more than you're ready for."

    When I visited Russell Hoban for the very first time in about 1990, I was frightened and full of doubt about what I was doing. I had written an M.A. thesis about his novels for adults and sent it to him. He read it, sent back a detailed response in which he had even timed his commentaries, and finally invited me to come to his house and talk to him.

    It took a while before I dared to accept the invitation. It also took some time and a lot of scrimping and saving before I could afford to buy a ticket from Zurich to London. But as I wanted to turn my M.A. thesis into a doctoral dissertation, I knew I couldn’t let that opportunity go. So I pulled myself together and wrote another letter to accept the invitation.

    After thinking of a set of questions I was going to ask him and buying a small tape recorder so as not to miss anything I flew to London. I was 26 years old then and felt like a fairy-tale character embarking on a dangerous quest. I arrived a bit late, having got lost in Fulham, but Russell Hoban was kind. He offered me wine and readily took part in my Q&A game. However, somehow I felt disappointed because he didn't answer those questions I was most interested in but only those he had answered in almost the same words in interviews I had read. Now that I am older I understand him very well. At the time, though, it didn’t occur to me that a famous person could feel just as scared to talk about private subjects as I was scared to talk to him. When I left, I knew that I had missed the chance to really get to know my favourite writer, for his invitation to talk to him hadn’t been an invitation to conduct an interview.

    It grew even worse, though, for when I sent him the interview, which I had typed up naïvely, unaware that one should transcribe them exactly as they were given and without rearranging questions or editing answers, he wrote back a harsh note to tell me I wasn’t allowed to publish the interview in my dissertation. I felt crushed, especially since I wasn’t aware of what I had done to deserve this rejection.

    Anyhow, I didn’t run away but carried on working on my doctoral thesis, striving to improve my skills and my understanding until I was able to submit and then publish it. Since I wanted to show Russell Hoban that I hadn’t used the interview, I sent him a copy of my book without expecting to hear from him. I got a job where I learned how to use the internet and one of the first things I googled for was “Russell Hoban”, and that’s when things began to change.

    Why? Because I discovered Dave Awl’s fabulous Head of Orpheus website, the first "official website", became a member of its e-mail discussion group The Kraken, and nearly fainted when Russell Hoban suddenly got in touch with me again in 2002, after reading my doctoral thesis and my contributions to The Kraken. But I was ready then, no longer scared, and I owe him and all my other friends from The Kraken some of the best experiences of my life.

    Russ passed in December 2011, I miss him and feel sad that there won’t be any more e-mails from and books by him, but at the same time I am happy that the real thing first showed itself to me through him and that his work continues to touch people all over the world.

    Happy Russ’s Birthday, everyone!

    Filed under Zürich Switzerland Jim's Lion