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An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: Brought to you by Inflatable Bats, a Giant Bumblebee, and Hank Green

Hank Green

Hank Green, the half of vlogbrothers who’s thus far done a million things that aren’t writing books, wrote a book. It’s technically an adult book, and it’s called An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (Dutton). Since Hank is a Green, that called for a night of silliness at the Wilbur Theatre, hosted by Brookline Booksmith.

Booksmith events co-director (and friend of The Horn Book) Alex Schaffner kicked off the evening with a hilarious introduction. After a funny video about the history of the Internet, Hank came out and answered some pre-submitted questions about the book and his new role as author. He discussed his awareness that already having an audience makes his experience different from that of many other debut authors. He’s also conscious, he said, that people read books “through the lens of the author” more in the age of social media than they did in the past, and that’s especially true in his case. These ideas about how Internet culture is changing our IRL experiences dovetail with those in the novel, a work of speculative fiction (“some people are calling it science fiction, but I call it speculative fiction because then” — wide-open shrug — “it could be anything“) about a young woman whose discovery of a robot of unknown origin makes her Internet-famous. (It’s easy to be cryptic about plot when you’ve just started reading the book yourself.)

Professor Alfred Bumbly

Somewhere in there, Hank also read a selection from AART. But lest you think this was a traditional reading, we were also treated to a lecture on Transformers and the history of robots in fiction by a Professor Alfred Bumbly, who looked like a giant bumblebee but sounded an awful lot like John Green, the half of vlogbrothers who’s been writing books (YA realistic fiction, in his case) for quite some time. Hank played several of his songs; “Accio Deathly Hallows” in particular earned cheers. “Viral moments of joy”—short, probably familiar-to-fans video clips—were interspersed through the evening. Both brothers appeared in human form for a live version of their “Dear Hank and John” Q & A podcast. (John, in response to a question about how their writing processes differ: “Hank pays attention to plot, and the order in which things should happen, and that stuff doesn’t interest me at all.”) And the two of them engaged in a blindfolded trivia battle in which they hit each other with inflatable baseball bats for wrong answers.

The vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green, doing what they do

Hank wrapped up the evening by saying that he’d meant the stage show to be a microcosm of the Internet. We’d had comedy, videos, music, and getting hit over trivia without it actually hurting that much — which is “basically Twitter,” he said. And then he sent us off into the night with a cover of Smash Mouth’s “All Star.”

It was maybe not your typical author event, but perfectly suited to this particular author.

Shoshana Flax About Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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