Monday, September 27, 2010

Tom Robbins on Richmond in the 1950s - From Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, 1976

The original manuscripts of Tom Robbins' novels are housed in Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, VCU Libraries. Robbins was a 1959 graduate of Richmond Professional Institute which merged with MCV to become Virginia Commonwealth University in 1968.

What exactly does did Tom write in the passage seen above? I think he could have been talking about Richmond this past summer - here it is:
“One June, Richmond, Virginia, woke up with the brakes on and kept them on all summer. That was Okay; it was the Eisenhower years and nobody was going anywhere. Not even Sissy. That is to say, she was going far. Up and down Monument, perhaps; hitching up and down that broad boulevard so dotted with enshrined cannons and heroic statuary that is known throughout the geography of the dead as a banana belt for stuffed generals. 

"The Old Capitol of the Confederacy marked time in the heat. Its boots kicked up a little tobacco dust, a little wisteria pollen, and that was it. Each morning, including Sundays, the sun rose with a golf tee in its mouth. Its rays were reflected, separately but equally, by West End bird baths, South Side beer cans, ghetto razors. (In those days Richmond was convoluted like the folds of the brain, as if, like the brain, it was attempting to prevent itself from knowing itself.)."
"... Midday, the city felt like inside of a napalmed watermelon."  -
from pg. 36 of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, by Tom Robbins, published in 1976.

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