Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Author Du Jour: Tom Robbins

(Stolen from:
Tom Robbins was allegedly born in Blowing Rock, North Carolina on July 22, 1936. By the age of five, he had taught himself to read, and was already writing stories. After moving several times, in North Carolina and Virginia, he allegedly worked at the Barnes and Beers Traveling Circus when he was 11. He later went to Hargrove Military Academy.
At 18, Robbins went to Washington and Lee University to study Journalism. He only lasted for two years before he left. While he was there, he got kicked out of his fraternity for throwing biscuits at his housemother. When he left school, in 1956, he hitchhiked around the country for a year, after which he moved to New York City to be a poet.
Shortly thereafter, however, Robbins received a draft notice, and off to Korea he went. He spent three years during the Korean War in the Air Force as a meteorologist. While overseas, he took courses in Tokyo in Japanese aesthetics and culture.
Upon returning to the US, Robbins began working as a copy editor at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. While there, he enrolled at the Richmond Professional Institute. He was the editor of Proscript, the school's student newspaper and wrote columns called Walks on the Wild Side & The Robbins Nest. He graduated from the school in 1961
In 1962, Robbins moved to Seattle, in a move that would forever affect his writing, as the city would play a major role in several of his books. He eventually got a job writing headlines for Dear Abby. He also enrolled in the Graduate School of Far Eastern Studies at University of Washington.
While at UW, he took a field trip with author Joseph Campbell to South America and became a feature editor and art critic at the Seattle Times.
On July 19, 1963, Robbins used LSD for the first time. This, like his move to Seattle would color all future writings.
In 1964, Robbins moved to Greenwich Village in New York City. He met both Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsburg while in Manhattan. He participated with Ginsburg in a march for the legalization of marijuana, and attended a lecture by Timothy Leary. He would later become good friends with Leary.
In 1965, Robbins moved to San Francisco for a short while and then moved back to Seattle where he worked for a while as a disk jockey. On July 23, 1967, Robbins developed his writing style while writing a review of a Doors concert he saw that day.
Luther Nichols, an editor for Doubleday, contacted Robbins in 1968 about writing an art book. Instead, Robbins pitched Nichols his idea for Another Roadside Attraction. Which would eventually be his first novel. However, after failing to get much work done for a year, Robbins moved to South Bend, Washington (with a $2,500 advance). Over the next two years, Robbins got the creative juices flowing, and in 1971, Another Roadside Attraction was published.
Not long thereafter he began working on Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, which would eventually be published in 1976. A year later, when Elvis Presley died of an overdose in his bathroom on August 16, 1977, there was rumored to be a copy of Another Roadside Attraction on the floor beside him.
Still Life with Woodpecker was published in 1980, and was followed by Jitterbug Perfume in 1984. In 1987, Robbins played the role of the toy maker in movie, Made in Heaven. Skinny Legs and All came out in 1990
Not much later, Robbins took a trip to Timbuktu, which would play heavily in his next novel, Half Asleep In Frog Pajamas, released in 1994. Half Asleep would hit the New York Times Best Seller List in 1995. Later in 1994, Robbins was in the film Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle.
In 1996, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues was released as a film, directed by Gus Van Sant, who also adapted the novel to a screenplay. The cast was made up of several stars including: Uma Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, Pat Morita, Angie Dickinson, Keanu Reeves, John Hurt, Ed Begley Jr., Sean Young, Crispin Glover, Roseanne, Ken Kesey, Heather Graham, William S. Burroughs, River Phoenix, and Tom Robbins himself as the narrator.
On May 2, 2000, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates was published and hit the best-seller lists almost immediately.

(Hijacked from Wikipedia:)
Another Roadside Attraction (1971)
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976)
Still Life with Woodpecker (1980)
Jitterbug Perfume (1984)
Skinny Legs and All (1990)
Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas (1994)
Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates (2000)
Villa Incognito (2003)
Wild Ducks Flying Backward (2005)
B is for Beer (2008)

Recommended Links:
The AFTRLife, a website dedicated to Tom Robbins
An interview with the author at January Magazine
Another interview, this one with Sir Bacon
A great profile of Robbins at