Tuesday, May 5, 2009

B is for Beer

Last week I met Tom Robbins when I bought his book. However, I was in the middle of reading Blindness so I hadn't gotten to reading his new book B is for Beer.
So yesterday on the train I began reading his newest book which I read in round-trip subway trip. It says on the cover it is "A grown up book for children" and simultaneously a "Childrens book for grown ups". I was surprised how true this was.
It is written as an actual kids book, no different than "James and the Giant Peach" or "Coraline". The story is written almost as a fable of a little girl living in Seattle that asks her father why he drinks beer while watching a sporting event. He brushes her off, but her eccentric uncle decides to allow her to taste some. She has a few other beer adventures until she has an ET moment where she drinks 2 full cans quite quickly. From there she goes on an adventure with the beer fairy who teaches the little girl how beer is made from the barley being grown, malted, fermented and then the hops being added. Speaking as someone that has enjoyed a beer or two from time to time, I was impressed with the full scientific explanation as well as a little bit of 'mystical' properties Robbins included in a book that really can be read to anyone over the age of 5 years old (except for the almost sad/depressing coda of the novel).
The book is not vintage Tom Robbins (he seems to have calmed down in his older age), but it does have a few of his patented quirks. Most apparent in the Beer Fairy and some of her explanations on the "Magic" of beer. There are 2 chapters that go a little out there and there are a few aspects of the book that maybe are not quite right for children.

The book literally took about 2 hours to read from cover to cover and I can recommend it, but only if you are in the mood for some very light reading. I'm on the fence of if I would give this book to anyone if they were curious about Tom Robbins and his writing. Although it does have some of his classic quirks and has the fun mood that most of his books have, including a little "Hi De Ho". (which is this book's version of "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" "Ha ha ha, hi hi hi,ho ho ho")
However, since it is a book written for kids, it is not a real Tom Robbins book since his other books seem to have that extra level beyond the actual text.

Overall, the completist in me is excited to have a new Tom Robbins book and especially to have it personalized and signed by the author, but I implore people not to think this is anything other than what it is: A simple little tale for all ages about one of the greatest beverages known to man.

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