In Seattle, Gwen Mati, a half-Irish, half-Filipina stockbroker, has the weekend in which to raise enough money to avert financial ruin and perhaps jail. The market took a nose dive on Friday and will likely crash on Monday. The story of a greedy woman by the author of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.
"How typical of your luck that when you finally arrived in a position to poach your golden eggs, the goose had a hysterectomy."
"Thus, instead of a strong, nutritious broth, pungent with the aromatic spices of labor and success, America has become a plop of separate little lumps of undigested stuff. Kind of like--vomit. Good-bye, melting pot, hello, chamber pot."
"Showed us a plastic jar full of something that looked like the spinal fluid of a scarecrow. The enema elixir. The anal ambrosia."
"A moment later, his face--glistening with the bring of the portable tide pool--is above your face, kissing your eyelids open, and you feel his stiffness, slowly, slowly, inch by impudent inch, sliding into you, pushing rapture ahead of it like an embolus."
What convinces his legion of fans to slog through this overwritten, neck-deep morass of orifices and cheap cultural criticism? Is it the edgy counter-culture references? The stoner-satisfying randomness of it all? I know poop is funny and so is fucking; but not in the hands of Tom Robbins. (Well, actually, poop in his hands might be funny.)
While his plot is original in its absurd and rambling fashion, the way that he crafts his metaphors and the way that he tries to approximate dead pan, extra-witty coolness is incredibly formulaic. I feel like you could write a Tom Robbins book with ad libs, or like that might be how he writes his books in the first place.
This was my second try at one of his books and it's going to be my last. If you need an English language humorist for young people, stick with Douglas Adams.
A story told many times since the sixties about the economic and Christian corruption and general pollution which will soon lead to the coming breakup of the system as we know it. Gwen, the stockbroker, meets Larry Diamond, fresh from the East, and from Timbuktu in Africa, where he has learned the secret of life though not the cure for cancer, which he has. He is still respected by the Seattle stock community for some reason though he has stolen it blind, dresses like an up-to-date hippie, and drives a beat-up, purple Vespa. As the financial world collapses he saves Gwen from her religious, capitalistic boyfriend and they head off into the blue - for T--b--tu, of course. Predictable, and, of course, all true, and all has happened in real life before.
Tom’s stuff show’s no growth over the years, with lines like, “The Father’s a frog, the Son’s a tadpole, the Holy Ghost is swamp gas.” Could it really be, that those who choose to read Tom Robbins are still concerned about such topics? His ability to string words together musically and originally is still amazing as when he discusses our difficulties in dealing with reality “that often seems to be unfolding in a foreign tongue...We’re attempting to comprehend the spiraling intricacies of a magnificently complex tragicomedy with librettos that describe barroom melodramas or kindergarten skits.” or Diamond’s kiss-off as he tipped the bartender with a fifty from “a tumbleweed of cash” while all around him drunken brokers were asking him for advice on the market after the day’s disastrous crash, “Poorer of some hopes but freer of some illusions.” Since he verbalized it(rather than written), it could as well have been a peon to the bartender as, “Pourer of hopes, freer of illusions” with the bartender and the booze as the nouns, ‘pourer ‘ and ‘freer.’
This book does have a place in the scheme of Ishmael, however in that it describes the breakdown of the “Taker Thunderbolt.” As our system continues its losing struggle against “The Law of Life,” just as surely as a glass bottle dropped from an airplane would lose against the “Law of Gravity.”
The storyline was unique, a blend of fantastical scenarios (a simian gem thief, amphibious aliens, a jade enema nozzle that cures cancer, the disappearance of morbidly obese tarot card reader, Timbuktu...) and 1990's soap-boxing about the greed and corruption of the 1980's. Still, nothing really resonated with me with this book. Not a keeper.
(Yes, this is the same "review" I gave to Jitterbug Perfume. This one I also read a number of years ago. I can also add that it has one of my favorite quotes ever. Tom Robbins is amazing.)
Now I will have to plan a visit to Timbuktu!