“What most people take to be reality is a load of old nonsense invented by not very inventive minds.”
Every 4th February – the birth date of Russell Hoban (1925-2011) – fans of this brilliant author write their favourite quotations from his books on sheets of yellow A4 paper and leave them in public places, and/or share them online (this is the Slickman A4 Quotation Event or SA4QE, which began in 2002.)
I first became aware of the SA4QE in about 2005 from an article in The Guardian, and have done the event ever since, often leaving quotes on A4 paper around the local village green next to the river. Doing this feels playful and subversive, a fitting tribute to a quixotic writer. I like the quotes to express what I love about Hoban – his mix of poetry, profundity and humour, his ability to veer effortlessly from the sublime to the hilarious.
I also leave smaller versions of the quotes tucked under baked-bean tins and packets of biscuits in the local village shop. I like the idea, and like to think Hoban would have liked the idea, of someone picking up a can of baked beans and finding underneath a small piece of paper that reads, “What most people take to be reality is a load of old nonsense invented by not very inventive minds.”
As I was finishing up, a woman with a golden Labrador walked past, stopped, read a couple of the quotes and looked at me. “Oh,” she said. “Oh. Oh.”
“Yes, Oh,” I said.
She smiled and walked off. I felt it was a suitably Hobanesque encounter.
More information about the event and about Russell Hoban can be found at http://www.russellhoban.org/sa4qe