I think of Tom Robbins of embodying, in his person and in his writing, many of the things I value the most about my forsaken homeland in the Great Pacific Northwest.
Many years had passed since I had read any Robbins, and reading Wild Ducks Flying Backwards over the past few weeks reminded me of why I like him.
Two bits to illustrate:
"... language is not the frosting, it's the cake."
And the entirety of his response to the question "How Do You Feel About America?" from 1997 (hopefully the copyright police will not come after me for this):
"America is a nation of 270 million people: 100 million of them are gangsters, another 100 million are hustlers, 50 million are complete lunatics, and every single one of us is secretly in show business. Isn't that fabulous? I mean, how could you fail to have a good time in a country like that? I could live literally anywhere in the world and do what I do so, obviously, I live in America by choice - not for any patriotic or financial reasons necessarily, but because it's so interesting there. America may be the least boring country on earth, and this despite the fact that the dullards on the religious right and the dullards on the academic left (the two faces of Yankee puritanism) seem to be in competition to see who can do the most to promote compulsory homogenization and institutionalized mediocrity. It won't work. In America, the chronically wild, persistently haywire, strongly individualistic, surprisingly good-humored, flamboyant con-man hoopla is simply bigger than all of them."
I also quite liked the essay "What is Art and, If We Know What Art is, What is Politics?
Recommended (but maybe read one of the novels first if you are new to the enterprise).