April 6, 2009

Tom Robbins Is in the Beer Book Game

A high school English teacher, talking about similes and metaphors, once used Tom Robbins as an example. I believe the phrase was, "her expressionless face was as blank as a paraplegic's dance card." Everyone else in the class mirrored the analogy while I fell to the floor cackling. While I should've asked the teacher which book that came from, I just bought one and kept reading his books until I found that line. I started with Still Life with Woodpecker, which probably remains my favorite. The book I found the line in, of course, was his most famous, Skinny Legs and All, and it's worthy of being his most celebrated.

But now Robbins is following in MY footsteps. B Is for Beer. He's written a beer book! And it's an illustrated book for kids, no less.

It comes out April 21 and I intend to go see him and have him sign my copy at Book Passage in Corte Madera on May 15. Here's a Q&A from Amazon to whet your appetites:

Tom: Beer is so universally beloved that 36 billion gallons of it are sold each year worldwide. Moreover, it’s been popular for thousands of years, with origins dating back to ancient Egypt and Sumer. It has deep connections to the earth -- and possibly to outer space, as well (I explain this in the book). Bittersweet, like much of life itself, it’s exceptionally thirst-quenching and enormously refreshing; it’s cheerful, accessible, affordable, lovely in color, and somewhat nourishing, being one of our few neutral foods: perfectly balanced between acidic and alkaline, between yin and yang. Best of all perhaps, beer makes us tipsy. What’s not to ode?

Q: Okay, but what’s the angle with children?

Tom: Children see beer commercials every time they watch a sporting event on TV. In the supermarket, they pass shelves and coolers overflowing with the stuff. Neon beer signs wink at them as they’re driven to school, to church or the mall. And, if their own parents and older siblings aren’t enjoying beer, then the parents and siblings of their friends surely are.

Kids are constantly exposed to beer, it’s everywhere; yet, aside from wagging a warning finger and growling -- true enough as far as it goes -- “Beer is for grownups,” how many parents actually engage their youngsters on the subject? As a topic for detailed family discussion, it’s generally as taboo as sex.

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