Tom Robbins

Like a lot of men, Tom Robbins loves beer and women. Unlike a lot of men, he’s capable of writing about both, eloquently and humorously. And Robbins can appreciate beer without women, and vice versa. But in his peculiar new “grown-up book for children,” B Is for Beer (Ecco, $17.95), he keeps the women and the beer conjoined. His heroine in this breezy 125-page tome is a Seattle kindergartener named Gracie Perkel, who becomes obsessed with the foamy gold stuff at the urging of her salty Uncle Moe, who skips town with a lover before he can properly educate the wee one as to beer’s transformational powers. Hence, she sets to acquiring that knowledge herself, with a mid-book assist from the Beer Fairy, who provides thorough lessons in both how beer is created and how it causes certain people to act. Robbins equates the consumption of beer with religion or, short of that, an out-of-body experience that brings the drinker closer to his or her inner divinity. But why gear the book toward the underage? “At the very least,” he says, “they need a clearer understanding of why their dad keeps a second refrigerator in the garage, and why he says up late out there on school nights with his shirt off, listening to Aerosmith.” Robbins’ fans shouldn’t expect another Jitterbug Perfume; Beer is actually a book you could read to your (older) kids at bedtime. But like everything Robbins writes, it’s singular, unique, and delightful. MIKE SEELY

Thu., May 21, 7:30 p.m., 2009

 
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