Friday, June 29, 2007

The Book of TR

I have a new project. Husband took the audio-book Blink back to the library when he went to town and got me the audio-book of Tom Robbins’ Ducks Flying Backwards, which are his short writings. It is a real treat because TR himself is reading it, and because it is necessarily more self-disclosive of his life -- what he was doing when -- than are his novels. So I find out he was living in Seattle by 1967, earlier than I had thought, and that the aspect of his character Switters that thinks South America is “just too God damned vivid” he got at least loosely from having traveled with Joseph Campbell to Mexico. Not that he actually said as much; I inferred. Perhaps no one but me would care. Still, I do. It is as fun peeking into his life as it is swimming in his language.

And, as in all TR writing, there are occasional sentences, paragraphs, or fragments thereof, that stand out in neon glow as significant, meaningful, funny, profound, or just plain weird. Like, “ . . . like a butter knife that forgot to take its lithium and turned into a corkscrew.” That’s a new one. Like my old favorites, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood,” and “It is what it is.” And about 10K more.

I was introduced to TR when I was 18, by my then 40 year old lover. Which I thought then that it was terribly important to have a 40 year old lover. And I have always retained warm feelings that are more slick than fuzzy for him. Even if there is every evidence that he is scared to death of me. Or wants no reminder of his indiscretion now that he is nearing 70.

Then when I was in the most precarious (and thus fertile and free) psychological situation I was ever in, that is, when I knew I was going up sh*t creek without a paddle and yet, the canoe was still safely tied at the dock for the moment, I carried around the then two (and then three) TR books in paperback. Like red letter Bibles, their neon sentences I underlined and carried the dog-eared pages with me where ever I went. And I quoted them. I even had the karma to have several friends who could quote them with me. Or maybe I imagined that Leslie and Jym and Lisa and the boy-who’d-been-in-the-mental-hospital-and-gave-me-the-prayer-bells-I-don’t-recall- his-name did that.

Hmmm, Jym was a real cutie. And smart. I hadn’t thought about him in quite some time. Wonder what happened to him?

Anyway, I could quote Tom Robbins like people quote the Bible, chapter and verse. I carried the books around. But with more and more books (since it has been nearly 30 years), that has become impractical.

So listening to his voice, rewinding (is it still “rewinding” on CD? MP3?) to hear the neon phrases several times in a row, it occurred to me that I should make The Book of TR. Entirely personal. Subjective. Random even. My own.

I rummaged through a drawer in my desk that hoards blank books should someone in the family have a sudden need for one, picked one out (after reading a few interesting things in a few aborted books), and began.

I have pens of many colors. And as I listen to this audio-book, when a sentence or phrase hits me, I write it down in whatever seems to be its appropriate color, in some random spot in the book. As time goes on, and as I re-read other TR books, I will add other neon passages.

And then, when I am lost and in need of guidance, I can use it as Oracle. When I am distressed and in need of comfort, I can find . . . what passes for comfort in TR’s world of language. It will be my Bible of sorts. My own Gods’ Owner’s Manual. My own Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. My own private room of the wolf mother wallpaper. My own little bit of TR that I can consult.


Ok, not what would he DO exactly, but what’s the take from that corner of my psyche?

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