Well, this is weird. And cool. Tom Robbins—legendary author and counterculture icon, author of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and other mind-altering works—is slated to teach a master’s class in fiction writing in St. Petersburg on Saturday, February 23.
Robbins, known for his semi-hermetic lifestyle, generally sticks close to his Seattle home, but, making an exception, he’ll join a fundraiser (for literacy programs benefiting children in the Tampa Bay area) put on by WordSmitten Media. The venue is yet to be determined, but WordSmitten’s Kate Sullivan said in an email it should be finalized within the week. The event will be held in downtown St. Pete in an appropriately cultural setting.
The cost for the workshop, which also includes a luncheon with book publishing execs and afternoon “breakout sessions” (advice for how to get manuscripts in front of agents and publishers) is $125 until Dec. 31, after which it goes up to $250.
The 76-year-old Robbins, who has dropped acid with Timothy Leary, is a witty and entertaining speaker, as evidenced in his talk several years ago at the St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading. I’m intrigued to see how he approaches teaching. This is a man who began the first chapter of his 1990 book Skinny Legs and All with the line, “It was a bright, defrosted, pussy-willow day at the onset of spring, and the newlyweds were driving cross-country in a large roasted turkey.”
Robbins’ latest novel is B is For Beer (2009), a children’s book for grown-ups/a grown-up book for children, and is, indeed, about beer. He’s clearly not pandering to youngsters with the line, “Do you know about drizzle, that thin, soft rain that could be mistaken for a mean case of witch measles?”
When asked by Amazon, why a children’s book about beer?—he responded: ”Kids are constantly exposed to beer, it’s everywhere; yet, aside from wagging a warning finger and growling—true enough as far as it goes—“Beer is for grownups,” how many parents actually engage their youngsters on the subject? As a topic for detailed family discussion, it’s generally as taboo as sex.”
The Robbins seminar sounds like an intriguing time for, not just aspiring novelists, but fans of wild, unfettered fiction. For more information, visit www.About-the-Books.com or register online at Eventbrite at http://wordsmitten-tomrobbins.eventbrite.com/