I just did a little review of Tom Robbins’ memoir, Tibetan Peach Pie, at Goodreads, and I thought I’d share it here to raise the question of whether writers’ memoirs are fraught with danger. That is, danger of disillusioning you. As you’ll see below, I learned a little more about my long-time hero than I really needed to know.
What do you think? Is it better to let the books stand in for the writer? Or do intimate details from his/her life enhance the experience of reading the books?
Whatever your position, go in with eyes open. Let the buyer beware!
As an adorer of Robbins lo these last forty years, I looked forward to reading this “memoir.” As you might expect, TR does not attack his autobiography like every other celeb writer would; instead he bounces around in his history and recalls stand-out moments as if the two of you are drinking at some La Conner bar and he’s pulling scenes out of his memory pouch to entertain you.
Many of his reminiscences are delightful. We see that he was the mercurial imp from an early age and that a variety of popular hallucinogens only enhanced his uncontainable imagination. But somewhere in there — after his success with Even Cowgirls Get The Blues and Still Life With Woodpecker — his persona became (to my mind) that of a coddled celebrity writer. He jets around the world to exotic locations (including, of course, Timbuktu) and, though he’s anchored in small-town Washington state it feels like he’s the kind of guy who can’t sit still for long without getting bored. Maybe the world inside his head is more appealing.
In a few of his recollections, Robbins made me wish I hadn’t picked up the book at all. Sometimes it’s best not to know much about your popular heroes, and I’ll have to plunk him now in the same category where I keep John Lennon these days: Better to let the work represent the artist rather than his life and opinions.
I saw Robbins at one of those “Conversations With…” events back in the ’90s. He was funny and opinionated and didn’t mind offending some people with his slant on things. It was a nice glimpse of the man — not TMI and not too little either. Now I’m saddled with more than I ever wanted to know.
I give the book three stars, though, because: Hey, it’s Tom Robbins. And he’s 82, for godssakes.
Could be Tibetan Peach Pie disturbed me because these last forty years feel like they’ve flown by…