I suppose a book, much like a pint of beer, belongs partly in the realm of “subjective” as we all have different stylistic leanings. However, much like a pint of beer, a book can be empirically held to a standard. Think I’m wrong? Then why do you prefer that fancy craft beer in your fridge to a Natty Light?
Anyhow, having just come off of a great read, I decided to search the library for a beer book. Since the book on the history of the prohibition I had hoped to garnish was sadly checked out, so I ended up leaving with Tom Robbins, “B Is for Beer”, a self described “Children’s Book for Grown-ups” and/or “A Grown-Ups Book for Children.” It looked amusing enough.
Immediately, I had to switch my brain to “less intelligent mode,” since the last book I’d read was a bit more heavy…but that’s ok, the book is intentionally written like a book my seven year old would read. The gist of the story (don’t worry, no spoiler alert needed here) is that of a young five year old Gracie Perkins who develops an interest in beer; and interest that is coddled and developed further by strange philosophically bumbling Uncle Moe. As the story runs its course, Gracie drinks a few too many, has a birthday, observes parental strife, meets the Beer fairy, explores a brewery or two, and beats up a drunk dude. That is as far as I plan on delving into the plot…I myself hate it when an abstract blows the plot of a book I intend to read, and I would hate to make the same blunder for your sake!
So let me just say what I thought of the book.
The first few chapters were a doozy…and not in a good way. I’d be willing to bet that there were at least five “humorous” metaphors per page. It got tiring, and did not elicit any chuckles from this reader. I know the author was intending to write the piece in story book fashion, but the humor hinted of the “trying too hard variety.” After the fourth or fifth chapter I was not sure I could continue. So, like I do with beers that initially offend my palate, I set the book aside for a week or two (which cost me a late fine at the library) and came back.
The book got better. While the plot wasn’t intricate enough to make it as a Lifetime flick, it was entertaining and I found myself wanting to read to the finish to discover the fate of the young heroine, Gracie. Speckled throughout were glimpses of the author’s personal takes on subjects like politics and religion. Some might get irritated with such insights, especially when they don’t line up with their own ideologies, but Robbins kept it light enough and besides…isn’t that the point of writing…to convey an opinion? By the way, I am so sick of all these undocumented werewolves running for senate positions, aren’t you. Just kidding.
Overall, the book was fun enough and can be read in an evening. I don’t think it would fare well outside the realm of beer enthusiasts, but I could be wrong. If a friend asked me, “Nate, is this a must read?” I would have to say no…there are many other “must reads” in the realm of beer, BUT I would say, once those are out of the way, “Go for it!”
Have you read the book? If so, what did you think?