selfishdisasterology asked: Who are Tori and Ani?

Oh God I am so old and that book is so old.

(Tori Amos and Ani Difranco.)

Anonymous asked: Does it matter how Alaska died?

So there are going to be questions in your life—big questions—that need to be answered and deserved to be answered but nonetheless go unanswered.

There will be questions around deaths and friendships and romances and religion and mysteries of every variety that never get solved to your satisfaction. The interesting question to me is: Can you go on in the face of that uncertainty? Can you live with integrity and hope even even with these unanswered questions?

Finding a way to live with that ambiguity matters.

It certainly matters to Pudge and the Colonel and Takumi and Lara what happened, and one assumes it will never stop mattering to them. But the real question is whether they will be consumed by that question or whether they will be able to live with it and keep going.

Anonymous asked: Why Strawberry Hill wine in particular?

…It is what I drank in high school.

(Trying to think of some metaphor…)

Yeah. It’s just what we drank in high school.

Anonymous asked: This may seem really crazy to you. But my name is Alaska. I went to school in destin Florida, and then I transferred to a school in centre Alabama. Everyone's always told me to read this book because they felt like I should. I was curious to know is there anything more behind this book than what you've said. It's just crazy how the boy goes from fl to al and there is a girl named Alaska in it. And as far as i know I'm pretty much the only Alaska in this world. Lol.

I’m going to recommend that you not read the book, actually.

(That’s amazing if true.)

Anonymous asked: What nationality is Colonel and his mother? There appear to be many clichés implying he maybe american american?

BBTTR.

(I do not know what American American is, so I feel particularly unqualified to answer this question. But even if I did know what it was, still: BBTTR.)

tuesday-syndrome asked: In Alaska, they drink Strawberry Hill wine in the barn after dark, waiting for their plan to go into operation. Nearly the same thing happens in The Virgin Suicides, when they're waiting to rescue the girls. Was this a coincidence?

I don’t know. I read and loved The Virgin Suicides as a high school senior, and it’s possible it wasn’t a coincidence at all but some lingering memory of that book.

On the other hand, I also drank a lot of Strawberry Hill in high school, so it could’ve been that.

Anonymous asked: Can you please explain the significance of the last few sentences? The quote of Edison's last words?

It is an invocation of hope in the life of the world to come.

liketobe-myoldselfagain asked: When did you write the scene with Alaska and Pudge making out in her bedroom?

Early. The first draft of that was I think in the 40 single-spaced pages I sent to Ilene way back in 2002. I don’t even think it changed that much over time. That’s one of the very few passages that survived from 2002. (It might’ve even been written in late 2001.)

coffeefolder asked: "Through a buggy twilight, I walked to the pay phone, which was drilled into the wall between Rooms 44 and 45.On both sides of the phone, dozens of phone numbers and esoteric notes were written in pen and marker (205.555.1584; Tommy to airport 4:20;773.573.6521; JG—Kuffs?)." Who's number is/ was that?

The 773 number was my cell phone number until 2007.

It is now someone else’s cell phone number in all likelihood, so please don’t call it.

(A handful of people called me over the years, and it was always okay, but it turns out that I am a much more introverted and anxious person that I understood myself to be at the time of writing the novel, when I was only imagining these interactions abstractly.)

Kuffs was my nickname in high school, because I once said that Christian Slater never made a bad movie.

stephani-d asked: Hey, John, I realize that authorial intent of metaphors isn't important, what's important how they make you think about bigger things, but why do authors use foreshadowing?

It makes you nervous; it keeps you reading; and ultimately, anticipation makes for more interesting and engaging reading than surprise.