Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life

Ecco: HarperCollins. May 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780062267405. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062267429. LIT
OrangeReviewStarThe imagination behind Still Life with Woodpecker; Skinny Legs and All; Villa Incognito; and a children's book about beer (B Is for Beer), is now the subject of Robbins's newest collection. Although the author insists that this is not a memoir, he admits that "it waddles and quacks enough like a memoir to be mistaken for one if the light isn't right." At any rate, it is an account of the "absolutely true" events of Robbins's life: his early childhood in rural Appalachia; his stint in Korea, in which he sold toiletries on the black market and unwittingly supplied Communist China with Colgate toothpaste; his many loves and marriages; and his path to writing and to the Pacific Northwest. Spanning more than seven decades, and regions as geographically and culturally diverse as Greenwich Village and Omaha, Robbins's life is a metonymy for the 20th-century American experience: the Depression, war, racism, jazz, the psychedelic Sixties—it's all here.
VERDICT Memoir or not, the form suits Robbins's digressive style, philosophical musings, and self-deprecating humor. Each piece stands on its own, but when read side by side they develop into a powerful argument about magic and the necessity of imaginative, interior worlds. [See Prepub Alert, 12/16/13.]

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