zensolo’s e-mailed chronicles posted by morituri.

You Don’t Know Much About Tom Robbins– and That’s the Way He Likes It

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September 11 doesn’t play a huge role in the novel, but it’s there. The book suggests that American
arrogance, self-satisfaction, and focus on the minutiae of capitalist life were directly responsible.
Do you agree? Also, having read that you take a very methodical
approach to your writing, I wondered if you began this book before or after the attacks.

TR: Perhaps the supreme tragedy of the September 11 attacks is how easily they could have been avoided
if the U.S. had a foreign policy that was even remotely worthy of a nation that professes to be moral, benevolent,
and favored by God. It would be easy enough to catalog the evils of that policy and the unevolved shysters who
formulate it, but I try to avoid the overtly political in both my life and my work. My approach is to encourage readers
to say “yes” to life, on the assumption that anybody who’s saying “yes” to life will automatically say “no” to
economic determinism and the destruction and self-destruction that economic determinism invariably spawns.

Villa Incognito was begun nearly a year before the attacks, but since the protagonist of my last
novel, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, proclaimed that “terrorism is the only logical response
to America’s foreign policy,” the knowledge that such an event was inevitable obviously lay napping
somewhere in the basement of the text. When 9/11 occurred, it slid up the stairs and into the narrative
as effortlessly as an amoeba sliding up a soda straw.

The fox is another mythical figure who makes an appearance. At one point, the character Tanuki
ponders “how the fox continually played mean tricks on human beings, yet claimed that his
mischief was actually a benefit to men because, in the end, it forced them into the flexibility and
resourcefulness essential to their advancement.” Do you think there’s hope that this could be
a positive outcome of 9/11, as well?

TR: It’s hard to find anything positive in the horrific loss of innocent lives, but as Margaret Mitchell
observed, “It’s a gone wind that blows no good.” If nothing else, 9/11 might yet force smug, xenophobic
Americans to wake up to the fact that we aren’t the only frogs in the planetary pond. The chief result so
far, however, has been to send a cowardly citizenry on a mad dash to trade its civil liberties for
a shadowbox of false security.

Written by morituri

December 22nd, 2005 at 1:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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