Saturday, July 19, 2014

Book Review: Tom Robbins: The Kindle Singles Interview

I just finished reading the Kindle Single Interview with Tom Robbins. It's a lot like catching up with an old friend. I started reading Robbin's books over thirty years ago when I picked up a copy of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.

It was new. It was exciting. It was the seventies. And here was this guy with a crazy writing style all of his own. It was like rediscovering Hunter Thompson, but this time he was writing fiction.

The interview was conducted by Mara Altman, and she does a great job keeping up with Robbins. We learn a lot of things about Robbins, for example, his passion for mayonnaise; his fondness for champagne, for Paris, and especially for the bubbles in carbonated beverages as they crash against his tongue, lips, and gums.

We also learn a lot about Tom Robbins, the Writer. He's old fashioned, choosing to write with pencil and paper, rather than those new-fangled word processors. And, the way he writes would drive all of the writing advice coaches nuts. A good day for Robbins is to churn out one page, or maybe even one paragraph.

Listen to how he does it...

"I try never to leave a sentence until I think it's as good as I can make it. Then when I'm satisfied with that sentence, I go onto the next one."

On planning and outlining...

"Sometimes I start with a title, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. I started with the title. I wrote the title and I turned the page over and I wrote the first sentence and I just went on from there."

On the business of writing...

"A novelist is in the same business that God is in. You're creating a world, universes, the people in them. I think that language is not the frosting it's the cake."

Of course, there's plenty more advice on writing, on LSD, on religion, and on living to be eighty-one.

I don't want to spoil it for anyone. Let's just say for 99 cents its a great MFA course for aspiring novelists, or just a way to catch up with an old friend.

The book is Tom Robbins: The Kindle Singles Interview by Mara Altman.

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