06 February, 2009

Daniel Pinkwater

Daniel Manus Pinkwater born in Memphis, Tennessee, is an author of mostly children's books and is an occasional commentator on National Public Radio. He attended Bard College. Well-known books include Lizard Music, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, Fat Men from Space, Borgel, and the picture book The Big Orange Splot. Pinkwater has also illustrated many of his books in the past, although for more recent works that task has passed to his wife Jill Pinkwater.

Pinkwater tends to write books about (frequently obese) social misfits who find themselves in bizarre situations, such as searching for a floating island populated by human-sized intelligent lizards (Lizard Music), exploring other universes with an obscure relative (Borgel), and discovering that their teeth can function as interstellar radio antennae (Fat Men from Space). They are often, though not always, set in thinly--or not at all--disguised versions of Chicago and Hoboken, New Jersey. A recurring character in many of his books is the Chicken Man, an elderly man who carries a performing chicken on his head. In 1995, Pinkwater published his first adult novel, The Afterlife Diet, in which a mediocre editor, upon dying, finds himself in a tacky Catskills resort populated by "circumferentially challenged" deceased.

Pinkwater authored the newspaper comic strip Norb, which was illustrated by Tony Auth. The strip, syndicated by King Features, was cancelled after 52 weeks.

Pinkwater varies his name slightly between books ("Daniel Pinkwater", "Daniel M. Pinkwater", "Daniel Manus Pinkwater", "D. Manus Pinkwater", etc.); allegedly, he claims that he does this in order to annoy the librarians who have to catalogue his books.

Mr. Pinkwater is also a longtime commentator on National Public Radio. He regularly reviews children's books on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. For several years, he had his own NPR show, Chinwag Theater. Pinkwater is also known to avid fans of the NPR radio show Car Talk, where he has appeared as a (seemingly) random caller, commenting, for example, on the physics of the buttocks, and giving practical advice as to the choice of automobiles.

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