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In which John is given a gift: his first novel, in its entirety, rearranged alphabetically.
American adults: If you haven't voted, today's the day. http://vote.org

This video contains a clue. The clue leads to a secret livestream.

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Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday.  Little bit of a stressful day around here.  31 years after having their stadium taken away from them, AFC Wimbledon are back home at last playing their first game today at the new Plow Lane stadium.  It's an incredible accomplishment: a stadium built and owned by the fans.  I'm so excited.  There's also an election.

If you're eligible to vote in the United States, please do.  You can find your polling place and more at vote.org.  Okay, I'm gonna make a video about something else.

Okay, so back in March, we did a liveshow fundraiser that I did not, at the time, realize was going to be my last experience of the old normal, and after the show, someone whose name unfortunately, I do not remember, came up to me and handed me this, an art project called Alaska for Looking.

This is entire text of my first novel, Looking for Alaska, but re-arranged into alphabetical order, so it begins with all the numbers in the book, and then quite a lot of A's, because apparently, I love an indefinite article, and so just before the world I thought I knew turned into a strange, dizzying, uncanny version of itself, someone handed me a novel I thought I knew, turned into a strange, dizzying, uncanny version of itself.

I last read Looking for Alaska in 2004, when I was 26 years old.  I do not enjoy reading my work after it has been published, partly because it's very frustrating not to be able to change anything, and partly because, you know, there are lots of other books I would like to read, and so 16 years later, I don't really feel qualified to comment on Looking for Alaska, but Alaska for Looking is fascinating.

Like, for example, here at the end of the letter 'H', it reads, "Hygienic, hyperventilating, hypothetical, hysteria iiiiiii" which would not be a bad title for my autobiography.  Like, Hygienic, Hyperventilating, Hypothetical Hysteria is my overwhelming response to 2020.  It's just such a good line.  It's one of those lines that you wish you had written until you realize that you did write it, just not in the right order.

In fact, reading a book alphabetized leads to all kinds of wonderful combinations.  How 'again' leads in to 'against', or 'wrong' into 'wrote' or 'lonely' into 'long'.  Seeing the book this way, it's a story of huddled hugs and smirking smoke, and then there are the little things I was reminded of, like when writing Alaska, I was obsessed with symmetry, the number of days in the first part of the book had to be exactly equal to the number of days in the second part of the book and so on, but I also did all these silly little things to please this weird worship of symmetry, like having the word 'remembered' appear exactly one more time than the word 'forgotten', and it was nice to be reminded of that, if only because 16 years later, I can celebrate not being quite so beholden to symmetrical obsession.

To read a book alphabetically is to understand its preoccupations but not its narrative.  Like in Alaska for Looking, I have no idea who anyone is or what happens to them, but I can tell the story is about school and before and after and labyrinths, and that's actually not so different from how stories survive in my head.  Like, I don't remember the plot of most of the books I've read, only how they made me feel and why they mattered to me.  

Now, of course, an alphabetized book doesn't tell you the whole story, but reading through this, I did feel like it was telling me a story, a story about me and me and me and you and you and you and time and time and time.  The end of Alaska for Looking will not make sense to people who haven't read the book, but if you have, you'll know how strangely, lovely, and wrenching it is.

The alphabetized book ends like this: "zen, zero, zipped, zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo", which is not such a bad way of saying goodbye to that story.

Hank, I now return to my hygienic, hyperventilating, hypothetical hysteria.  I will see you on Friday.

This video contains a clue just like all my recent videos do.  The clue leads to a secret livestream and was repeated four times toward the end of this video.