80 at 80: 80 reasons why we’re celebrating Russell Hoban’s 80th birthday

Chris Bell

26. Because we want to help expand the limited reality consensus.

27. You can use words like ‘solipsistic’, ‘tawny’ and ‘palimpsest’ in polite company without embarrassment.

28. To discover the work of artists like Hieronymus Bosch, Thelonious Monk, Caspar David Friedrich and Alberto Giacometti.

29. To discover writers like Oliver Onions and H.P. Lovecraft.

30. To be able to laugh at lines like “I the undesigned” from Kleinzeit.

31. You get to introduce your kids and nephews and nieces and friends’ children to How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen.

32. Reading his books confirms that the Universe is a three-legged horse.

33. He helps you to appreciate the rainy days more than bright sunshiny ones.

34. Auberon Waugh loved his work.

35. He writes about potato pancakes and baking bread.

36. He doesn’t have a moustache.

37. He wrote Deadsy.

38. “I wunt have no other track.”

39. He writes about Shirley Manson and quotes lyrics by Donald Fagen.

40. He knows where the lions are hidden.

41. Will Self says he’s cool. And he’s right.

42. He likes owls and bats and creatures of the night.

43. He makes you dream of Antioch.

44. The Deep Black.

45. The light of preternatural brilliance. 

Chris Bell was born in Wales and lives in New Zealand with Elisa Bowman, designer of the 80! Some-Poasyum booklet and their son Frank, who was born on New Year’s Day 2008. Chris’s fiction has appeared in ‘The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror’; ‘The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror’; and ‘This Is The Summer of Love’. His short stories have been published in ‘Not One of Us’ (US); ‘The Third Alternative’ (UK); and ‘The Heidelberg Review’ (Germany). His first novel, Liquidambar, was a surreal, Chandleresque story inspired by 12 of Edward Hopper’s paintings. He says his latest novel, Songshifting, is the kind of thing George Orwell might have written if he’d grown up with rock and roll music and was at least in part inspired by Russell Hoban’s sci-fi novel Fremder.

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