LA Times Off the Shelf Feature: Reality, Fantasy, and the Imagination

Jeff VanderMeer • October 17th, 2009 @ 6:42 pm • Culture, News

(What if you looked through the hole in the pipe and saw this?)

The Los Angeles Times ran my essay about Finch on Friday. Very happy with how it turned out. An excerpt:

When I was growing up, my dad had a family heirloom that fascinated me: a small tobacco pipe with a glass-covered pinhole in the side. If you looked through the hole you could see a microfiche-like photograph: four rows of stern-looking men and women, along with names and other information in German or Dutch. My dad explained that the photograph depicted a group of dissidents from the days before World War I. He didn’t know whether the image was intended as a “hit list” for the secret police or a way for the radicals to keep track of their own. But those kinds of details didn’t register with me anyway. For me, the pipe was a compelling oddity, a window that delighted me because I could look through a tiny hole and see so much.

I’ll be reading from Finch at Book Soup on the Sunset Strip on November 11 at 7pm.

5 Responses to “LA Times Off the Shelf Feature: Reality, Fantasy, and the Imagination”

  1. Larry says:

    For some reason, that picture reminds me of Eminem

    Very good article. Always love reading stories like that :D

  2. Jonathan K. Stephens says:

    Thanks for the insight into the workings of an artist’s imagination. An altogether fascinating article, Jeff, thanks for sharing.

    For those interested, the whole article can be found here:,0,956721.story



  3. Xelgaex says:

    If I saw that image in the pipe, I would have even more serious doubts as to whether the story you relate wasn’t some kind of elaborate hidden-in-plain-sight code pointing the way to a drug based gnostic secret society. I mean, the proper way of using a pipe leads to secret knowledge about the nature of the world? Highly suspicious.

    More seriously, I really enjoyed the piece.

  4. Hellbound Heart says:

    hey, maaaaan, i live just up the road from byron bay and nimbin….i see shit like this all the time…….

    peace and love…..

  5. Rachel Swirsky says:

    That picture is straight-up awesome.

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