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Tom Robbins
American author

I have hated Tom Robbins since freshman year of college, when my roommate was like "Dude, have you ever read Still Life with Woodpecker? Oh my god, it's sooo good; Tom Robbins is a genius! Here, listen to this," and he proceeded to read aloud the the first of many lines he would share with me, each of which he thought was the absolute pinnacle of wit. Here's what he read to me:
It might be noted here that Freudian analysts of fairy tales have suggested that kissing toads and frogs is symbolized fellatio. In that regard, Princess Leigh-Cheri was... not so naive as Queen Tilli, who thought fellatio was an obscure Italian opera and was annoyed that she couldn't find the score.
Oy. I hate everything about that quote: the stilted, faux-formal "it might be noted here"; the "funny" character names (Princess Lechery? Pphbbt.); the uninteresting observation about frogs and the gutless way he attributes it to "Freudian analysts" so you understand that he would never make such a banal observation; finally, the fact that it's all in service to a truly awful joke. I really hate that joke. It's a stand-up comic joke, begging for a rimshot. Not only do I hate this kind of lazy, formulaic joke, but I really mistrust anybody who finds it funny, and especially anybody who thinks it's great comic writing. At best, Robbins achieves a cheap pastiche of Vonnegut, but quirk for quirk's sake leaves me cold. He's juvenile, scatological, and tries to titillate and shock with ideas like the aforementioned Princess "[using] a papal candlestick for the purpose of self-gratification." Gasp! So naughty!
     Oooh! that opera joke still makes me mad. I know I seem a little unreasonable about this, because after all it's just one paragraph, but (apologies to Neal Stephenson) Still Life with Woodpecker is fractally annoying to me: the whole is a disaster; each chapter is a nightmare; zoom in on a paragraph at random and I'll be just as annoyed by it as I was by the book as a whole, and the sentences, oh the sentences -- innocent words strung together against their will into necklaces of crappy prose. To extend the arbitrary metaphor from the last sentence, Tom Robbins's writing looks from a distance like fine piece from Tiffany's, but when you get up close, it reavels itself to be cheap, gaudy costume jewelry, traded by the handful for a peek at a 19-year-old's tits.
.: .2.7. . : . . . :
4/14/2006 • link

4 comments:


Anonymous C DUBZ said...

I liked that book. I don't remember it too well, but I liked it.

4/15/2006 4:34 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word. Robbins is so hatable.

5/14/2006 8:42 AM  

Blogger Marcy said...

Thank you! I have been searching for someone who doesn't like Tom Robbins. A coworker was reading one of his books, and I said, "Oh, I've heard of him. I haven't read any of his stuff, but he seems to have a following." She told me to get _Even Cowgirls get the Blues_, so I checked it out of the library.

Bleh. I don't like it. It's hard to get through, and it's like he's trying hard to be weird. I don't care about the rectal temperature of a hummingbird. I haven't gotten very far in the book and I am returning it to the library. I leafed through to the middle to see what was going on, and I happened onto an anal sex scene. Yuck.

But I got online to read reviews and everyone just raves. Puh-leeze. He's not that good. I'm glad to finally find someone who hates him, too.

7/22/2006 10:56 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck you idiots.....the entire point of books like cowgirls is to make you think outside your little square of understanding. Time and meaning are the central themes to the book, self-determination taken to the extreem....something we could all do but few try. You non-philosopher types should stick to reading from the paperbacks at the grocery store

10/17/2007 8:43 PM  

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