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Tommy Rotten. That's what his mother called him -- half affectionately and half truthfully -- when he was a kid in rural North Carolina during the Great Depression. And gonzo novelist Tom Robbins certainly made a lifelong effort to live up to his childhood nickname -- not literally rotten, but affectionately, iconoclastically rotten. And while living the life of Tommy Rotten, Robbins (amazingly) started writing at an early age and pursued a career as a writer (journalist) from the start.
If you like the novels of Tom Robbins, you will love his "this is not my memoir" memoir. Recounting anecdotes from his colorful life, Robbins clues his readers into the currents and events that shaped his life and career, ultimately as a beloved author. Hed does so in a format that falls outside the bounds of a conventional memoir or autobiography, in the same way he had consciously set about breaking the bounds of the traditional novel when he wrote his first book, the legendary Another Roadside Attraction (Audible, PLEASE come out with an audio version of ARA ASAP!).
The biographical details are welcome, often juicy. But what his fandom will appreciate most are a) the background on how his novels came to be written and published and popular, and b) his boundless talent for stringing words into sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. Many of his anecdotes are structured to set up a punch line, and while some of those punches miss the mark, his use of language is always awe-inspiring (and to a wannabe writer like me, the cause of endless envy).
Keith Szarabajka sounds so much like Robbins, he is the perfect narrator. He is one of those actors whose face you recognize from all of his character roles in TV shows and movies, and he is a prolific voice actor whose voice you recognize more than his tongue twister of a name. He also read the audio version of one of Robbins's novels, among his dozens of audiobook credits. Would love to hear him do ARA (hint hint, Audible!).
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Tom Robbins has been my favorite author since the early 90's with Woodpecker. I've read all of his novels and wished that he would write faster and never age so that his novels would keep coming.
I didn't however, follow his life. I didn't even know in which order he wrote his books, I didn't really know anything about him.
This book is a treasure. It's a glimpse into an amazing life, but more importantly, it's written by the master.
The minute I finished it, I started it over. There are tiny moments throughout the book that made me stop and say "oh wait, that was amazing," but then he'd moved on to something funny, or shocking, or mind-bending. I had to listen again.
Robbins' life is super colorful and super interesting. His views on everything from love to religion are just as interesting. But none of that matters as much as how it is all written down. His prose, his use of language is like no one else and it's just, well, I don't have the vocabulary to speak highly enough. He's awesome. He's spoiled me for any other author. He has no equal.
The narrator was perfect, just perfect.
I wish someone would put all of Robbins books on Audible.
17 of 19 people found this review helpful
As with all Tom Robbins novels this was full of wisdom, wonder and mad magic. Brilliantly narrated, sweet, smart and incredibly funny.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Fascinating though not enough detail on the writing of any of his books beyond the first two.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful