Thursday, August 6, 2009

B Is For Beer, by Tom Robbins

Tom Robbins is older than I would have guessed him to be. I believe he's got a lot of words left in him, but I left this book on my shelf far too long without reading it out of some fear that I may not have the chance to read a new Tom Robbins book ever again.
I'm waiting for certain people -- if they haven't already -- to go up in arms about this book. Not because it's about beer, but because the cover proclaims it to be both a children's book and a book for children, and Gracie gets drunk enough to vomit on her sixth birthday, and there's apparently a Beer Fairy that kids might just find exciting enough to try and conjure. Despite Robbins' warnings that beer is not for children, and that the fairy most certainly will not visit other such children, some people won't get that this isn't even actually a children's book (although I can't say I'd be opposed to children reading it, or having it read to them).

But maybe I've misjudged the general, or if not general then at least common, American mindset. I also expected to hear uproar about Barack Obama meeting with people at the White House to discuss their differences over a beer, but apparently if there are people who would construe that to mean that Obama is promoting alcohol as a way to solve problems, then they are fairly quiet about it.

I just think that many Americans still have the same mindsets about alcohol and its consumption that led to Prohibition, and that I believe contribute (among, obviously, many other factors) to other alcohol-related issues. Part of that mindset is that beer, and other drinks, should be kept completely out of the sight and mind of children. Now I don't think we should be supplying our kiddos with booze. But I think they ought to see adults drinking responsibly and behaving responsibly, and to realize that alcohol is not something to hide. And part of that is acknowledging the presence and use of drinks, and even (gasp!) discussing them with children.

Not that Gracie's Uncle Moe goes about that the right way. But he's got the right idea. Beer can be (and usually is) a wonderful thing. And one (or three) ought to be enjoyed responsibly with this little book.


  1. My poor friend. You think that people in this country on the whole are ever going to really let go of the mindset that we must have this superblanket that smothers our kids and keeps all knowledge of anything "age-inappropriate" out of their little minds? Hardly!! Trust me, for a lot of parents, they think that if their kids never see it or hear it, then they'll grow up to be perfect little sheeple, when in reality, those tend to be the rebels and they often become statistics.

    I'm interested in this book though haha.

  2. No, I don't think so. At least not in my lifetime -- although people have surprised me before. But color me optimistic... I guess I like to see the worst and expect (or at least hope for) the best.

  3. I have read Tom's books for the past 20 years. I can honestly say that they have had a substantial impact on my worldview and I am eternally grateful to Tom for his life's work. One of my greatest pleasures has been reading B is for Beer to my eight year old son. He laughed, asked questions and talked about the topics raised in the book. In the end, he really liked the novel and I felt that a torch had been passed to the next generation who will chase the mystery. Thanks Tom, from both of us.

  4. I agree -- Tom Robbins is one of the most influential writers in my life.

    And thank you for the story about this book and your son. I imagine that I will read it to my kids, should I have any, when they are about that age -- so it's wonderful to hear that he received it so well.

  5. No book burning this time, yes, I guess because the "righteous" are busy with other issues at present...
    However, this book is a beautiful, simple, and clear distillation of TR's lifelong goofy philosophy. I'll call it his "zen schnapps" and raise a glass of beer to it - stocky mug and all.
    Cheers from Stuttgart, Germany.

  6. "Zen schnapps." I like it!

    And Grüße, from someone who lived in Germany until two months ago.

  7. Tom Robbins is a great writer...have a shelf dedicated to him...but...(and there's always a but isn't there?)

    He needs to say something.
    For or against, either or.
    The killing.
    To do less ..
    Lessens him. (in my eyes)
    (which do not pretend to see his whole picture)
    Big Guy speed TR...