The Author Has Left The Grid

Has anybody heard about this John Twelve Hawks guy? According to his official biography, he lives off the grid and only speaks to his publisher via untraceable cell phone.

I don’t usually follow the fantasy/sci-fi genre, but I have to admit I find this biographical concept (or conceit) intriguing. A few great writers have lived off the grid (Rimbaud and Thoreau come to mind). Anybody else know anything about this disconnected author, or has anyone read the book?

22 Responses

  1. Well now …I’ve been off the
    Well now …

    I’ve been off the grid for a while and I can see the appeal. But now I’m back, from outer space — or Virginia Beach, however you want to look at it. I think the key to really pulling this off though is to first write the book, become a darling and then remove yourself from the grid. Otherwise it’s somehow lacking interest. For example, my grandma has been living off the grid for years, but since she neglected the first part of the process, it’s not really news. This is, of course, not to be confused with the matrix.

  2. Great SpinI haven’t read the
    Great Spin

    I haven’t read the book, but here’s a little more on what this guy is about, taken from his website:

    Q: One of your characters, Gabriel, lives “off the Grid,” avoiding detection by what you call the “Vast Machine.” Can you explain what you mean by this and why you yourself have chosen to live this way as well?
    A: For me, living off the Grid means existing in a way that can’t be tracked by the government or large corporations. The Vast Machine is the very powerful – and very real – computerized information system that monitors all aspects of our lives.I live off the Grid by choice, but my decision includes one factor that is relevant to the publication of THE TRAVELER. I want people to focus on the book itself and not on its author. The typical “personal slant” of most media arts coverage trivializes the power of ideas – and there are a great many provocative ideas in this novel. Everyone who reads THE TRAVELER is going to be entertained by an exciting story. A smaller group is going to be inspired to see our computerized world in a new way.

    Q: How do you correspond with your publisher and how do you plan to correspond with readers?
    A: I have never met my editor or any of the staff at Doubleday. I talk to them using a satellite phone or we communicate through the internet. I haven’t really thought about how I’m going to answer reader questions but it will probably be through a non-traceable website.

    Seems to me it’s all a lot of hokey spin to get people into the book… not that there’s anything wrong with that per say. But that could be a whole ‘nother discussion.

  3. Interesting. So, I assume he
    Interesting. So, I assume he uses someone else’s computer when he talks to his publisher on the internet, and doesn’t keep the same cell phone for any length of time (they do actually have disposable cell phones in Japan), his publisher pays him cash because he can’t put his money in any bank. Some guy from Doubleday drives out to the desert with a suitcase of unmarked bills…

  4. I think the excerpt Stevadore
    I think the excerpt Stevadore posted, but “the grid” refers to the worldwide system of identification from social security numbers to taxation to employee ID’s to credit card #’s, etc. I think it’s also pretty easy to start using the phrase in a wider, metaphoric sense. Most of us are pretty deeply embedded in “the grid”, whether we ever chose this or not.

  5. Yeah, I think that’s what he
    Yeah, I think that’s what he means – no phone, credit cards, passport, id, etc.

    But I like your thought about the metaphoric sense… so is it possible to be deeply embedded in the grid, yet still exist off of it in spirit? hmmmm…

  6. You know who else did
    You know who else did this?

    The Unabomber, that’s who.

    I think we all remember what a darling of the literary world this guy was, what with his manifesto and his police sketch all over the news. And then with the orange jumpsuit and the SNL skits about him. Yep. Ted Kaczynski did this all 90’s style. Quality off-the-grid work, for sure.

  7. Stevadore, that’s an
    Stevadore, that’s an interesting question. I seem to recall a saying that went “Be in the world but not of the world.”

  8. You’re absolutely right, and
    You’re absolutely right, and I think that is a good observation. Is this guy going to have a group of survivalist followers?

  9. I have a friend with a
    I have a friend with a brother who I hear left the Marines on a mysterious semi-honorable discharge due to mental illness, and who now says he is living off the grid. But he is collecting military benefits, and so my friend sarcastically says “yeah, he’s living off the grid”. There’s a play on words there, if you phrase it right.

  10. Yeah, Bill E, sounds like it
    Yeah, Bill E, sounds like it comes from that silly book that’s the number one bestseller of all history.

  11. There was a grid in the days
    There was a grid in the days of Thoreau & Rimbaud?

    The number one bestseller of all time & he hasn’t shown up? Who does he think he is, Shakespeare?

  12. Thomas Pynchon too, but I
    Thomas Pynchon too, but I don’t know if he has a group of survivalists, although his books lenghty tomes, but can they be described as manifestos?

  13. In the Office of the Dead”It
    In the Office of the Dead

    “It makes no sense,” I protested.

    “It makes perfect sense to me,” came Westlawn’s quick reply. “Think, man!”

    “E Grid?” I pondered the singular phrase in the middle of the otherwise blank business card:

    “e-grid” is all it said.

    “Where did you find the card?”

    “In the little rectangular compact.”

    “A compact you say? Why do you think it’s a compact?”

    “There is a mirror in the inside lid.”

    “Anything in the bottom?”

    “No. No powder. Just a card.”

    “Why a mirror?”

    I looked at the card, sitting in the little plastic holder, and at the mirror…the reflection…the word spelled backwards…

    “e grid….dirg e”


    Westlawn said wickedly, “Look up ‘dirge’ in the dictionary. I believe you’ll find that, besides being a funeral hymn, it is was, in medieval times, an antiphon at Matins in the Office of the Dead.”

  14. Well. Steve, I didn’t want to
    Well. Steve, I didn’t want to sound preachy.

  15. Gotcha. I was just pattin
    Gotcha. I was just pattin myself on the back for remembering, hehe.

  16. Maybe we should just
    Maybe we should just substitute “the grid” with “the matrix”

  17. The Situationists of
    The Situationists of Course

    the situationists’ manifestos and stories and ramblings were published guerilla style and distributed in a flurry of spontaneity. their communiques and newsletters often resembled zines. and though each other signed his/her name they were a name. a figure. furthermore, they enacted no copyright claiming their writing was only a tool to be used. any student, graffitist, or publisher could use any part of any of their text without citation of any sort. even recognition to the author (the title became a formality in itself). in fact, in the situationist anthology edited by kan knabb look at the copyright and it tells you much!

  18. with a phone?Check out
    with a phone?

    Check out Jamelah’s comment: the unabomber was off the grid, but he had no electric, running water, neighbors, etc.

    I think this guy just means he’s not using the net, and his technology can’t be traced to him (Any phone can be traced, but ownership or usership can be hidden).

    Which is a cop out as far as I can see; if he wants to claim “off the net” he should really be off it.

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