02/04/2011 09:41 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Kraken Rising: Russell Hoban's 86th Birthday

Russell Hoban turns 86-years-old today (February 4, 2011). For the 10th year running, fans of his work (aka, the Kraken) will celebrate the day.

The Slickman A4 Quotation Event, or SA4QE for short, was dreamed up in 2002 by Krakenite Diana Slickman, who wrote:

I propose that we each, on February 4, write our favorite passage, of any length, from any Russell Hoban book, on a piece of yellow paper [A4 yellow paper figures prominently in a Hoban novel called Kleinzeit.] and drop it somewhere public and then walk away, leaving chance to do the rest....

In 2010 Lisa Jones posted arresting photos of yellow paper quotations in New York City. A complete report on the 2010 celebration, with more photos, is here.

Olaf Schneider has done brilliant Flash animations featuring Hoban quotations.

Once I left a Hoban quotation in a Maryland train station that had an antique locomotive parked on a siding as an exhibit. The locomotive looked more like a prehistoric beast than a machine, and the day was raw and windy.

This is the train station quotation:

Dream: a rushing in the air behind the visible world.

Here is a quotation for February 4, 2011:

And I think of the sun over the water, the sun through the water, the holding the sun, being held by it with no thought and only the rhythm of the going. . . . Then it doesn't seem hard to believe. It seems the only way to do it, the only way in fact to be: swimming, swimming, the eye held by the sun, no sharks in the mind, nothing in the mind.

Russell Hoban, Turtle Diary, 1975

The Kraken's birthday celebration also includes whisky and flowers sent to Russell Hoban's home. But this year we made a lucky find: black spiced rum called, unbelievably, The Kraken. There was debate about rum versus whisky, but the chance was too good to pass up.

As one of us put it, "he can always share the bottle with guests, and use it as a conversation piece. 'This is the Kraken that The Kraken sent me ... ' "