The hardest things about packing for a trip is what book to take. There are so many considerations. Hardcovers are out; smaller volumes are preferable but there has to be enough reading to last the trip. Two small books might work, or a longer one and a smaller volume as backup. Ideally the subject matter will complement the trip, or at least the tone. I once sat in a sunny garden in Monaco singing with children’s laughter reading American Psycho. That was disturbing. That’s the other thing. Obviously, you want something you will enjoy, but at the same time, many people take the opportunity to lock themselves in with a book they really want to read but otherwise wouldn’t. The number of people who travel with heavy classics. On my first trip to Europe with friends, one of them brought with him War and Peace. I can’t tell you if he managed to finish it on the trip, or ever. I wish I could remember what book I took with me when I left my home town for the first time to live in another city. Or what I took with me when I left for Europe with just a backpack of all my possessions. I do know I took Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven with me to America last year, a fascinating but gut wrenchingly depressing book and I had Vonnegut’s Jailbird in Barcelona earlier this year.
Tom Robbins is great to travel with because his books are so much fun but at the same time filled with so much detail and philosophical depth. I don’t know any other author who writes with such perfectly balanced irreverence about sex, religion, politics and philosophy at the same time. I had Skinny Legs and All in Northern Queensland, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates in Portugal (or maybe it was Greece), and tomorrow I’m off for two and a half weeks to Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Hercegovina, and top of the backpack will be Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas!
-Reading the Why
PS. I just realised that this will be my last full Robbins novel, oh no! There is a collection of shorter writings that I’m yet to read and I’m not counting B is for Beer. And at 84, I don’t know if there will be another.