Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tom Robbins - Undisputed Master of the Metaphor!!

A quote to whet your appetite: "Spoon surveys the room. Moonrays are driving through the window like a fleet of white Cadillacs." ~Tom Robbins, "Skinny Legs and All", page 250

This is a long post. Probably the longest post I've had so far. I'm finally getting to the prolix part of my brain. I have a serious case of prolixity today, but I've been working on this post for weeks trying to get everything I want to say in---not possible considering the subject matter. This is one of my rare stream of consciousness rants about an author I worship and adore. But to try to minimize what I have to say about Tom Robbins, the KING OF METAPHORS, is unconscionable, totally not do-able, etc. So please, bear with me because you won't be disappointed if you're just discovering this man's writing. If you already read Tom Robbins, please feel free to share your favorite quotes or books. I'd love to know so I can secretly judge you by what's in that grocery cart of a brain of yours......LOL! I don't judge, but I am quite the curious girl, pun intended.

Many days I wake up and wish I'd never read a single word he'd written so I could re-experience the ecstasy of finding him. Oh, to be a Tom Robbins virgin just one more time---it gives me shivers, just the thought of it!!! I love this man's words more than chocolate or mocha frappuccinos and that's really, really saying something. I'm posting covers of my favorites of his books. I love every one he's written (although I haven't read his new one, "B is for Beer" yet. I'm saving it for a dreary day so I'll have something to look forward to.......) and highly recommend them all for great, never-your-average reading.

By Tom Robbins

She went to the School of
Miss Crocodile,
learned to walk backwards,
skin a black cat with her teeth.

Soon, she could dance with
dead pirates,
cook perfect gumbo,
telephone the moon collect.

But it took 23 doctors to
fix her
after she kissed that snake.

From: "Wild Ducks Flying Backward", page 150


By Tom Robbins

I went to Satan's house.
His mailbox was painted black
A fleet of bonecrushers
was parked in his driveway.
The thorns on his rosebushes
were longer than shivs.
And sixty-six roosters scratched
in his front yard, their spurs
smoldering like cheap cigars.

I went to Satan's house.
It was supposed to be an Amway party.
I wanted one of those
hard as hell steak knives.
The ones that can't tell the difference
between mama's sponge cake
and a chunk of rock cocaine.

I went to Satan's house.
I felt a little out of place.
But Satan's twin daughters soon put me at ease.
They tried on funny hats for me,
showed me jewels,
danced around my chair.
They read my fortune
in a bowl of ashes,
let me pet their Dobermans,
and watch while they rinsed out their pink underthings.

I stopped by Satan's house,
I just happened to be in the neighborhood.
Satan came downstairs in a Raiders jacket.
His aura was like burnt rubber,
but his grin could paint a sunrise
on a coal shed wall.
"I see you've met Desire
and Fulfillment," he said,
polishing his monocle with a blood-flecked rag.
"Regret is in the kitchen making coffee."

From: "Wild Ducks Flying Backward", pages 125, 126


In the world of writing/reading, there is Tom Robbins, then there is everyone else and I am seriously not exaggerating or pulling your leg. As Mama says, “I shit you not!” Go ahead, ask anyone who reads Tom Robbins and you’ll find a passionate, ardent, fanatic; a fiery-fierce, ferocious free spirit; a person with whom you’d trust your life and your children’s lives and even your groceries. I am being as serious as a dead grasshopper here!

I have been going to library sales and used book stores for 35 years and I have yet to find a single, battered Tom Robbins book ever. Why is this? BECAUSE NOBODY EVER GETS RID OF HIS BOOKS! I can’t say that about any other author on earth! Nobody!! Nowhere! I used to have a habit of highlighting favorite passages in books. I gave up on his books because I have entire books highlighted! Entire books, people---every magical, crazy, hypnotic word! (Have you peeked at and hit "Add to Shopping Cart" yet???)

Everything I read before Tom Robbins was piss poor, stale white bread. He is the juiciest, most mouth-watering steak, the finest, aromatic wine, the most luscious, pristine, fresh vegetable---to put it gastronomically. He's the red, ripe Chipmunk AND Grasshoppper untouched tomato fresh off the intoxicating vine. . . It was like this: I thought I had been drinking coffee all my life until I had that first cuppa Starbuck’s Espresso Roast, freshly ground, then I realized I’d been drinking colored water up until then---that's TOM ROBBINS! He’s so far beyond what I can even describe that it’s pathetic to even try. Excuse the abundance of exclamation marks, okay? I’ve been saving them up for this post and they’re all jumping around in my pockets in anticipation of their appearances! I promised to use them all in this post......!!!

I spent over half my life eating said white bread then a friend (who cannot remember the person who introduced them to the master?) sent me an old copy of “Jitterbug Perfume”. My life has never been the same.

I am on my knees bowing, head to the ground, arms waving up and down in the air to Angie C. the best friend on earth, who sent me her very own copy of “Jitterbug Perfume” back on October 14, 1999---I told you one never forgets---From there I escalated to “Skinny Legs and All”, then to “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” and all the rest of them. (If you're a real Tom Robbins nut, you own the movie version of "Cowgirls" with a young Uma Thurman....Of course, I have it!) Hell, I even found some poems he wrote in "Wild Ducks Flying Backward" to keep with my blog theme of poetry.

I met Angie online in a “Discussion Group” about Anais Nin, my favorite female author, way back in the virginal days of cyberspace in 1998. It was fate---we're still good friends, too! You might forget your own Mama’s birthday but you’ll never forget the person who introduced you to Tom Robbins---EVER! Thank you, Angie, I’ll owe you till the day I become ashes spread in bookstores around the world……(That's my last request, that my husband put on his favorite jeans, rip a little hole in the pocket, put my ashes in and take a road trip to the biggest, best bookstores around the USA and dribble my ashes in the poetry sections of as many as he can...if he dies before I do, my daughters have this information and swear to do it boxes in the ground for this girl!)

I found an interview with Tom Robbins online and share my favorite line here where he attempts to describe, quite aptly I might add, his own books. You can read the entire interview if you want to at the website following the quote:

TOM ROBBINS: "If unrestrained, I might describe my books as hallucinogens, aphrodisiacs, mood elevators, intellectual garage door openers, and metaphysical trash compactors. They'll do everything except rotate your tires. As a novelist, my goal has been to twine images and ideas into big subversive pretzels of life, death, and goofiness with the hope that they might help keep the world lively and give it the flexibility to endure. Now, having said all that, I should confess that I probably have no idea what I'm talking about. I rarely indulge in self-analysis and I'm as surprised as anyone else by what seeps out of the end of my pen."

From interview with Peter Wild at Bookmunch:

And now for a few of my favorite quotes from his books:

Jesus: Hey, Dad.
God: Yes, son?
Jesus: Western civilization followed me home this morning. Can I keep it?
God: Certainly not, boy. And put it down this minute. You don’t know where it’s been.
From: “Another Roadside Attraction” by Tom Robbins

"Louisiana in September was like an obscene phone call from nature. The air moist, sultry, secretive and far from fresh---felt as if it were being exhaled into one's face." ~Tom Robbins, "Jitterbug Perfume", page 66

"The Chinese fingers of dawn, slender and opium-stained, were massaging the bruised bottom of the sky, and owl hoots were beginning to be supplanted by benevolent birdsong and what might have been the sound of the night shift punching off duty at the buggworks." ~Tom Robbins, "Skinny Legs and All", page 72

"The last thing she hears as she dives deep down among the keys and change, Kleenex and Boomer letters, post-Jezebelian cosmetics and tattered old magazine photos of Georgia O'Keefe, is the joyful laughter of the heathen dildo.......The average woman's purse weighs approximately one kilo. The average woman's heart weighs nine ounces.....Can a woman who does not know the contents of her handbag know the contents of her heart?" ~Tom Robbins, "Skinny Legs and All", page 279

"The minute you land in New Orleans, something wet and dark leaps on you and starts humping you like a swamp dog in heat, and the only way to get that aspect of New Orleans off you is to eat it off. That means beignets and crayfish bisque and jambalaya, it means shrimp remoulade, pecan pie and red beans with rice, it means elegant pompano au papillote, funky file z'herbes, and raw oysters by the dozen, it means grillades for breakfast, a po' boy with chowchow at bedtime, and tubs of gumbo in between. It is not unusual for a visitor to the city to gain fifteen pounds in a week---yet the alternative is a whole lot worse. If you don't eat night and day, if you don't constantly funnel the indigenous flavors into your bloodstream, then the mystery beast will go right on humping you, and you will feel its sordid presence rubbing against you long after you have left town." ~Tom Robbins, "Jitterbug Perfume", page 240

"....I always wear flats to work, you've hardly ever seen my prime-time heels. I mean, hey, I'm no Imelda, but I've got three or four pair that could loot the treasury of a Third World country and make the natives say thank you. My hot pink Kenneth Cole pumps could fleece Manila in an hour......Let me show you a pair that takes no prisoners. Ellen Cherry knocked back a slug of Rum and vanished into her bedroom closet. When she reappeared, she was holding out in front of her, as if they were twin holy grails, a pair of pumps that seemed to have been fashioned from passion fruit and monkey entrails knotted together in posh bows; with cut-out insteps, ribbon ties, and spool heels, wider at the ends than in the middle. 'Ta-da,' she said softly and without emphasis. "Now, aren't these the shoes estrogen would wear if estrogen had feet? I call the color neon fox tongue, but that's another story." ~Tom Robbins, "Skinny Legs and All", pages 293, 294.

"With it's marvelous pinkness, Conch shell's long, smooth, folded aperture saturated the cave. It was a bonbon pink, a tropical pink; above all, a feminine pink. The tint it cast was that of a vagina blowing bubble gum." ~Tom Robbins, "Skinny Legs and All", page 54


Happy weekend, and happy reading. Hugs, Love and Blessings, ~Marion~


Margaret Pangert said...

Ah, yes! Tom Robbins! I remember reading maybe 25 years ago Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, and I got into that book so quickly and completely. I remember the girl with the huge thumbs who hitchhiked. What an amazing imagination he has! Another book I read around the same time was Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut which totally captured me, too. And then not too long ago I got a book of essays by Robbins, Wild Ducks Flying Backward, on the basis of how much I ADORED Cowgirls, but haven't read it yet. Strange?! I'll read it now! The Creole Debutante is great! and Satan reminds me of Woody Allen's movie when he visits hell. Enjoyed the great excerpts you found, Marion! Luv ya! Margaret

Woman in a Window said...

Tom first and forever, Jitterbug Perfume. I don't remember it how some people remember names. (I don't remember names either.) I remember it like I was drunk at a party and like there was this guy there, or maybe a girl, and (s)he reached over and pulled on my thigh, the top white doughy part, and pulled my eyes to him that way. He has kept my eyes in firmhold ever since, deep down there in the folds of my torn up jeans. I love him on a grunting and instinctual level. There's no other like him.

And of course you love him too!

Woman in a Window said...

Next favorites, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Another Roadside Attraction. And even them, I only remember nuances but I carry them with me even now.

Kelly said...

Get ready.... I've never read any Tom Robbins.

Your enthusiasm for his writing certainly comes through, though!! LOL! Maybe I need to give it a shot at some point.

Karen said...

My sister fell in love with Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and introduced me to Tom Robbins way back then. Jitterbug Perfume was my favorite, and now you have me headed for my bookshelf to pull it out again. It's been years since I read that, and I'm hankerin' for it again, thanks to your great reminders!

Rikkij said...

Marion- I have a very precious friend,( much more so, really). and this friend gave me a copy of Jitterbug Perfume. I actually wrote a post based around a quote in it and have it scheduled for monday called "longing". So glad you didn't hit on that one. Anyone who knows my blog knows I'm kind of a two a week schedule. It was much better when it first came to me but it survived somewhat being shelved in my brain. Please don't do any more T. R. til after Monday in case you accidentally cover it.
Loved your inclusions. especially going to Satan's house. Great great stuff. He uses so many metaphors you forget where reality left off. I look at his pic often while reading to wonder where these thoughts come from. Have a great rest of weekend. ~rick

Marion said...

Rick, that does it, by God. You, Erin and Moi are really all the same person divided by three and tossed by fate to different parts of the globe.....This all really blows my mind which is not an easy thing to do....Have no fear, friend, I'll not post another Robinson quote until, say, how about Thursday next after 9 p.m.? Is that good for you??? LOL! (Doing a happy-dance because my imaginary friends all love the master of metaphors!!! Woo-Hoo!!!!)

Thank you all for your comments. A storm(!!!) is brewing and I must unplug my valuables and prepare for battle!! Be back soon, I promise.


Wine and Words said...

Me....I'm the virgin. Once I finish Carnival Evening, I will pick up something of his :)

Woman in a Window said...

Marion, I'll speak for Rick here too, K? We're not imaginary. We're real. Friends. You give me a great deal. It sure seems you do the same for Rick. What else is there to friendship? Perhaps one day we'll all gather, sit, and share something more, but I do believe that even here, it is an awful lot!

Thank you for everything. Hope the storm kicks ass!

Marion said...

I'm all out of order now on responding to the posts. The wimpy ass storm consisted of dark clouds, thunder, clouds, thunder and NO RAIN!!! Aaaarrrrrghhhh! Not ONE drop! I'll have to put on my body armor and pull out my Hatori Hanza sword to fight the big mosquitoes now and get out before full dark and water my plants...

Margaret, I knew you'd be a Tom girl. I just knew. You have that certain 'je ne sais quoi' necessary to be his chick. LOL! I did the same with "Wild Ducks Flying Backward" and was so glad I had it for backup because I've enjoyed discovering his poetry so much. It's full of surprises, that one is. You'll eat it up with a spoon. And I agree 100% about the Woody Allen film now that you mention it! Who knows, maybe Tom Robbins inspired him....Blessings!!

Karen, isn't it a hoot how so many of us love TOM and have read "Jitterbug Perfume" first? I'm lovin' it. I'm re-reading "Jitterbug" and "Skinny Legs" both at the moment. I got reeled in hunting through them for quotes and decided to just read them both all over. I'm a multi-tasking kind of girl. Happy reading! Blessings!

Oh, Annie! I'm so happy!!!! Another virgin!! You and Kelly are in for a real treat. I hope you both give him a go with an open mind. Just be prepared ahead of time to know that he's not your average novelist, no sireeeee, but I guess you can tell that by the quotes! LOL! I suggest starting with either "Jitterbug Perfume" or "Skinny Legs and All". "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" is pretty nutso. Blessings and Happy Reading!

Oh, Erin! I know, I know, I know, I know. Thank you for saying that. Ditto for me from you two. Y'all give me HOPE with a capital "H"!! I've used the term 'imaginary friends' for my Internet friends forever and now it's become a habit. (I think my husband started saying that, but since Angie C.--the one who introduced me to Robbins--and I talk on the phone for hours on end regularly he knows that I'm not just pulling his leg about having REAL friends online.)

Why, to me, y'all are REALER than REAL. Just like in my favorite passage from my favorite children't book, "The Velveteen Rabbit" except exchange the word child for friend:

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room...

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child (friend) loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."


Blessings, Peace, Hugz, Healing, Love and Happiness to you all!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Renee said...

Marion of course your quotes made me smile.

I especially liked the one on western civilization.

Thank you dear friend for being there for me.

Love Renee xoxo

Rikkij said...

Marion- and she just happens to be the special
someone who gave me the book. go figure! quite a club we have going. Take care~rick

Marion said...

Renee, words cannot express the amount of strength, hope and courage you have lent to me by your steadfast spirit in the face of the trials and adversity life has tossed your way. You're a true ninja, kicking ass at every turn. Glad you enjoyed the quotes! Love and Hugs!!

Rick, I'm not surprised, not at all, that she gave you the book. Yes, it's as rare as a Louisiana snowstorm in July to find friends whose hearts beat in cadence with your own. I'm blessed beyond measure and also deeply grateful for our bond. Love and Hugs...

Kelly said...

I'm almost afraid to try him. What if I don't like him?? What will you think of me then?!?!

I always think about the time my best friend gave me a copy of one of her favorite books, insisting I would love it. I didn't. (do I dare mention the title here?)

Anyway.... we'll see. It's not like we don't have plenty of other books/authors we share. :)

Marion said...

LOL, Kelly, you nut!!! A book/author couldn't change our friendship! You very well might not like Robbins. He's kind of crazy and hard to read at times what with tossing those metaphors out like speedballs at a professional baseball game. I promise I'll still respect you in the morning. At one point in my life, I would not have liked his books, either. But he might surprise you. I did post some of his wildest quotes here, so don't let them scare you off from trying one of his books. Blessings!!

Kelly said...

Well, I did like the one you started with about the 'moonrays'.

And I guess I'll fess up to the book I didn't like (even though probably everyone that posts here has read it and loved it)...

"A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole. It's been my experience that people either love it or just don't see the point. I was the latter.

Marion said...

OK, I'm a "Confederacy of Dunces" nut---I loved the book and read it like four times straight through, BUT I have found, like you said, that people either love or hate the book---no middle ground! It's strange. I only read it a few years ago and I found it very nostalgic having grown up in Louisiana and experienced so much of what he wrote about. It just cracked me up that he wrote on those Big Chief tablets and I used to write on those as a kid. He didn't have a father; I didn't have a father. His Mama drank, my Mama drank. When he puts that cat in his hot dog cart, well, I lost it. I laughed until I cried. But I have several friends who, like you, said they just didn't get into it. To each her own, right? I think I've had too much caffeine today. I'm going back outside to sit in the sun, read and dry out. LOL! Hugs!!

Pam said...

Am loving Carnival Evening.... guess I'll have to check out some Tom Robbins!