Author Tom Robbins speaks about his memoir and life experience


The Appalachian Online

Joshua Farmer

Appalachian State University hosted visiting author Tom Robbins at the Schaefer Center for Performing Arts on Thursday night where he shared passages from his memoir, “Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life.”

He delighted the audience with stories from his youth, including a tale of how he dictated stories to his mother when he was just five years old, the way he tried to rob a bank when he was seven and the time the FBI suspected that he was the Unabomber due to controversial content of his novel, “Still Life with Woodpecker.”

“He was very bold to share a lot of the things that he shared,” said Maddy Mudd, a junior English major who attended the talk.

Robbins surprised many attendees with his frankness about his experiences, including those regarding sexuality and drug use.

“He’s kind of zany, beholden to no rules or regulations,” said Joseph Bathanti, a creative writing professor and resident North Carolina Poet Laureate at Appalachian.

The event resulted in a large turnout, filling the Schaefer Center’s 1,684 seats to maximum capacity.

“[His fans] see him almost as a religious figure,” Bathanti said.

Craig Popelars, the director of marketing and sale for Algonquin Books, said tickets for the event sold out 11 hours after they went on sale. Popelars introduced Robbins at the beginning of the event, as well.

Robbins, a native of Blowing Rock, is widely considered to be one of the most important writers of the 20th century.

His early books are seen as some of the best examples of the counter-culture of the 1960s and, to this day, his works deeply impact countless people’s lives.

After Robbins presented, there was a brief question and answer session. When asked if he had any advice for college students, Robbins replied, “Stop taking yourselves so seriously.”

“It’s all cosmic theatre, and the important thing is to play your part to the best of your abilities,” Robbins said.

Story: Thomas Culkin, Intern News Reporter