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Tom Robbins?

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 6:28 am UTC
by LL Cool J
I really love his books. Has anyone else read them (I know sje has, and a few other people- I did a quick search)? Noone I know IRL has, which very much disappoints me. Half Asleep in Frog Pyjamas is the only one I am yet to read, apart from his 2005 anthology of poems and short stories, which I hadn't heard of until I looked on the wikipedia page a moment ago.

So yeah. Preferences, favourites? Favourite themes, characters? Sooner or later I'm going to get someone in meatspace who'll sit down and have a good long talk about the books with me, but it seems like that might be a while away.

Re: Tom Robbins?

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:31 pm UTC
by tsevenhuysen
Does he have a website? Anywhere to read excerpts?

The title of the book you mentioned sounds intriguing. What kind of writing does he do?

Re: Tom Robbins?

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:49 pm UTC
by LL Cool J
He doesn't have a website, just a wikipedia page.
Excerpts... maybe Amazon? As far as I'm aware, it's legal, right?

His writing is hard to describe. They're complicated stories, not really one genre or another. Mostly just bizarre tales about humans, as a setting for discussion about philosophy, religion and whatever else is in his head, as far as I can tell. Honestly, reading the excerpts is probably going to be a lot better a recommendation than any that I could write.

Re: Tom Robbins?

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:22 am UTC
by Narsil
I hate that feeling of loving an author but not having anyone in the world to discuss the author with. I feel like that about rather everything.

Sorry to say, I haven't read Robbins either. But I have heard of him, which is a start, and I'm pretty sure he's a postmodernist, so I'll get around to reading him eventually. But postmodernism is kind of a dense thing.

Re: Tom Robbins?

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 1:12 pm UTC
by 6453893
Narsil wrote:I hate that feeling of loving an author but not having anyone in the world to discuss the author with. I feel like that about rather everything.


Re: Tom Robbins?

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:01 pm UTC
by sje46
I read Even Cowgirls get the Blues, which is about a hitchhiker who has thumbs the size of watermelons. That is a very sexy book, by the way. I also read Another Roadside Attraction, which is pretty funny. It's about these hippie people who find Jesus' corpse, I believe . .. I actually haven't read that one in a while, so I forget. My favorite though (out of the three and a half that I read) is Skinny Legs and All. This is the best one to get a good idea about what he's all about. It's about a waitress--she's an artist--who goes to Manhatten and works at a place owned by a Jew and a Muslim across teh street from the UN, and is the target of many threats. It also has a very extreme Christian evangelist trying to herald in teh end of the world. But my favorite characters are the inanimate objects, which include ancient artifacts (a painted stick and a conch shell--I think they were supposed to represent the two genders, heh--and modern objects including a philosophical can of beans, a dirty old sock, and a very lady-like spoon. The modern objects were granted the ability to move by the artifacts, and they are going to Jerusalem because the end of the world is soon, and . .. dang, I forgot.

It's been like five years since I've read him, ha.

HEre is the prologue:

THIS IS THE ROOM of the wolfmother wallpaper. The toadstool motel you once thought a mere folk tale, a corny, obsolete, rural invention.

This is the room where your wisest ancestor was born, be you Christian, Arab, or Jew. The linoleum underfoot is sacred linoleum. Please remove your shoes. Quite recently, the linoleum here was restored to its original luster with the aid of a wax made from hornet fat. It scuffs easily. So never mind if there are holes in your socks.

This is the room where your music was invented. Notice the cracked drumhead spiked to the wall, spiked to the wolfmother wallpaper above the corner sink where the wayward wife washed out her silk underpants, inspecting them in the blue seepage from the No Vacancy neon that flickered suspiciously out in the thin lizard dawn.

What room is this? This is the room where the antler carved the pumpkin. This is the room where the gutter pipes drank the moonlight. This is the room where moss gradually silenced the treasure, rubies being the last to go. Transmissions from insect antennae were monitored in this room. It's amazing how often their broadcasts referred to the stars.

A clue: this is the room where the Painted Stick was buried, where the Conch Shell lay wrapped in its adoring papyrus. Lovers, like serpents, shed their old skin in this clay room. Now do you remember the wallpaper? The language of the wallpaper? The wolfmother's blood roses that vibrated there?

Enough of this wild fox barking. You pulled up in the forest Cadillac, the vehicle you claimed you'd forgotten how to drive. You parked between the swimming pool and the row of blackened skulls. Of course, you know what room this is.

This is the room where Jezebel frescoed her eyelids with history's tragic glitter, where Delilah practiced for her beautician's license, the room in which Salome dropped the seventh veil while dancing the dance of ultimate cognition, skinny legs and all.

Cowgirls excerpt:
It is the finest outhouse in the Dakotas. It has to be.

Spiders, mice, cold drafts, splinters, corncobs, habitual stenches don''t make it in this company. The hands have renovated and decorated the privy themselves. Foam rubber, hanging flower pots, a couple of prints by Georgia O''Keeffe (her cow skull period), fluffy carpeting, Sheetrock insulation, ashtrays, and incense burner, a fly strip, a photograph of Dale Evans about which there is some controversy. There is even a radio in the outhouse, although the radio station in the area plays nothing but polkas.

Of course, the ranch has indoor facilities, flush toilets in regular bathrooms, but they''d been stopped up during the revolution and nobody had ever unstopped them. Plumbing was one thing the girls were poor at. Nearest Roto-Rooter man was thirty miles. Weren''t any Roto-Rooter women anywhere, as far as they knew.

Jelly is sitting in the outhouse. She has been sitting there longer than necessary. The door is wide open and lets in the sky. Or, rather, a piece of the sky, for on a summer''s day in Dakota the sky is mighty big. Mighty big and mighty blue, and today there is hardly a cloud. What looks to be a wisp of a cloud is actually the moon, narrow and pale, like a paring snipped from a snowman''s toenail. The radio is broadcasting "The Silver Dollar Polka."

What is young Jelly thinking, in such a pensive pose? Hard to say. Probably she is thinking about the birds. No, not those crows that just haiku-ed by, but the birds she and her hands are bamboozling down at the lake. Those birds give a body something to think about, all right. But maybe she is thinking about the Chink, wondering what the crazy old coot is up to now, way up yonder on his ridge. Maybe she is thinking about ranchly finances, puzzling how she''s going to make ends meet. It is even possible that she is pondering something metaphysical, for the Chink has more than once subjected her to philosophical notions; the hit and miss of the cosmic pumpkin. If that is unlikely, it is still less likely that she is mulling over the international situation--desperate, as usual. And apparently her mind is not on romance or a particular romantic entity, for though her panties and jeans are at her feet, her fingers drum dryly upon the domes of her knees. Perhaps Jelly is thinking about what''s for supper.

On the other hand, Bonanza Jellybean, ranch boss, may just be looking things over. Surveying the spread from the comfort of the privy. Checking out the corrals, the stables, the bunkhouse, the pump, what''s left of the sauna, the ruins of the reducing salon, the willow grove and the cottonwoods, the garden where Dolores teased a rattlesnake on Monday, the pile of hairdryers still rusting among the sunflowers, the chicken coop, the tumbleweed, the peyote wagon, the distant buttes and canyons, the sky full of blue. Weather''s hot, but there''s a breeze today and it feels sweet, swimming up her bare thighs. There is sage smell and rose waft. There is fly buzz and polka yip. Way off, horse lips flutter; she hears the goats at pasture and the far, faint sounds of the girls tending their herd. The bird herd.

A rooster clears his sinuses. He''s loud but absolutely nothing compared to what those birds can do if the hands don''t keep them quiet. They''d better!

Still sitting, Jelly focuses her dreamy gaze on the rooster. "Someday," she says to the empty seat next to her, "if that Sissy Hankshaw ever shows up here again, I''m gonna teach her how to hypnotize a chicken. Chickens are the easiest creatures on earth to hypnotize. If you can look a chicken in the eyes for ten seconds, it''s yours forever."

She pulls up her pants, shoulders her rifle and ambles off to relieve the guards at the gate.

Welcome to the Rubber Rose. The largest all-girl ranch in the West.

Yeah, postmodern, I think. I highly recommend him.

Also, which one should I read next?

Re: Tom Robbins?

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:25 pm UTC
by LL Cool J
Still Life With Woodpecker, I reckon.

6453893 wrote:
Narsil wrote:I hate that feeling of loving an author but not having anyone in the world to discuss the author with. I feel like that about rather everything.

It's frustrating. But that's what the internet is here for, right? To find other people like me, and hope they'll talk to me? :D

Re: Tom Robbins?

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:18 pm UTC
by dbsmith
Oh yeah! I love Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates. The Switters (i think) character is just damn awesome.
And you can't go wrong with a plot about a
witch doctor putting a curse on a guy so that his feet cant touch the ground!

Only problem was the "I have a thing for really young girls" theme, which I wasn't super comfortable with.

Awesome writing, fantastic characters and humour.
Alas, I found it really hard to get into a couple of his other novels...they just weren't as accesible.

Re: Tom Robbins?

Posted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 2:20 am UTC
by eekmeep
He is awesome. My favorite two books by him are "Still Life With Woodpecker" and "Jitterbug Perfume." I like them all, though. My husband feels approximately the same (but he was less of a fan of "Fierce Invalids ..." than I was).

For those of you who don't know him, he is sort of surreal and uses the most amazing metaphors.

I started reading him because I loved Richard Brautigan and they tend to have similar fan bases.

Re: Tom Robbins?

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 6:00 pm UTC
by LL Cool J
Yes! I love the wonderful metaphors. Next idea for this thread: You like to read Tom Robbins, so you have good taste. Who else do you like to read? I'm googling Richard Brautigan now.

Re: Tom Robbins?

Posted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 3:47 am UTC
by eekmeep
Richard Brautigan is the only one I've found that has a similar style ... I would definitely be open for suggestions, though. And Jess, I would *love* to know what you end up thinking of Brautigan.

I would recommend starting with either "The Hawkline Monster" or "In Watermelon Sugar."

Re: Tom Robbins?

Posted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:35 pm UTC
by psychosomaticism
My favourite (and only coincidentally the only) book I've read by Robbins was Villa Incognito. Really liked the modern mythology part of it (kind of reminded my of American Gods), along with all the good character development.

Re: Tom Robbins?

Posted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 5:40 am UTC
by VannA
Jitterbug Perfume is one of my favourite books.

I've read Half-Asleep, and Fierce Invalids..

I think I shall Amazon the rest.

Re: Tom Robbins?

Posted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:57 am UTC
by Jesse
Well, I recently finished Still Life With Woodpecker for the simple reason that _jess liked it. It is wonderful! His writing reminds me of when Tom Holt was still enjoyable to read. I am now on a quest to read more of this man's books.