Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Breaking Up with Robbins

It hurts to fall out of love. Of course, it is very painful to be the one fallen out of love with, but I've found that breaking up with someone is a very difficult thing to do. You have to work up the nerve to break it to a person that you no longer want them in your life, and that is tough.

As a reader, it hurts to fall out of love with authors. I loved certain books when I was at different stages of my life. Later, when I went to reread those books, it was with a shock that I no longer Got It. 

The main example (and please don't yell at me, fans of his) is Tom Robbins. I adored Another Roadside Attraction and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues in college. Those books made perfect sense to me. Sissy Hankshaw, with her lovely face and huge thumbs, hitchhiked her way right into my heart and stayed there for years.

The images in the books, like the huge hot dog in Another Roadside Attraction, caught me. Robbins's writing was electric, colorful, psychedelic, and - naughty. It gave me ideas about religion and politics that I had never entertained before. 

And women - the way he celebrated women was exuberant. I had never encountered anything like it.

I was in love.

College ended. I stopped hanging out in rooms filled with the smell of cigarette smoke, patchouli, and oil paint. Suits replaced the bright satin harem pants in my closet. I went to work.

Still Life with Woodpecker came out a few years later, and my friends and I excitedly rushed to buy it. I can still remember the feeling as I opened that book about a redheaded princess and a pack of Camels.


It was deflating to realize that I no longer got it. "Yes, but how do they buy groceries?" was my thought. My head had shifted to an entirely different place.

Even Cowgirls seemed gimmicky. And Roadside, as beautiful and trippy as it was, had become naive in my new take on the world. Plus, I saw that it wasn't ok to create characters and ignore them for long sections of the book, and throw in a paragraph near the end saying, "Sorry I ignored this character for so long, but I'm going to keep doing it." Cough, Baby Thor, cough.

I was breaking up with Robbins.

I still like the thought of Tom Robbins and his books. You can tell the man loves words and adores creating his long, looped sentences. 

And somewhere, there is a girl in bright harem pants, chuckling over the description of the Cowgirls's stampede against feminine products. She just isn't me, any longer.

1 comment:

Kathleen Barker said...

So true....and we never see it coming.