Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas

by Tom Robbins

Hardcover, 1994




New York : Bantam Books, c1994.


When the stock market crashes on the Thursday before Easter, you--an ambitious, although ineffectual and not entirely ethical young broker--are convinced that you're facing the Weekend from Hell. Before the market reopens on Monday, you're going to have to scramble and scheme to cover your butt, but there's no way you can anticipate the baffling disappearance of a 300-pound psychic, the fall from grace of a born-again monkey, or the intrusion in your life of a tattooed stranger intent on blowing your mind and most of your fuses. Over these fateful three days, you will be forced to confront everything from mysterious African rituals to legendary amphibians, from tarot-card bombshells to street violence, from your own sexuality to outer space. This is, after all, a Tom Robbins novel--and the author has never been in finer form.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member lithicbee
A bit of zaniness from Tom Robbins, Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas mixes up the stock market, tarot cards, a monkey who is born again but was formerly a jewel thief, frogs, aliens, enemas. In other words, the usual mix of interesting and out-there subjects. I found it interesting that this book was
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just as topical in 2010 as when it was originally published in 1994. The main character, a repressed Filipina, was not my favorite for most of the book, but I did like that to the end, even as she grows as a character, she remains an individual, there is no drastic change in the way she is based on the events in the book. In that, she was very believable, or as believable as anyone can be in a Robbins novel.
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LibraryThing member fieldnotes
I read this book a year ago and have hesitated to review it because of a weariness at the idea of picking it up again; the humor, the plot, the references, the second person narrative: it's all so heavy. It takes less than thirty seconds to accumulate representative groaners.

"How typical of your
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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.
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LibraryThing member whirled
Around the turn of the century, I read and enjoyed two Tom Robbins novels (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues was a particular treat, as I recall). Not sure if fans consider Half Asleep one of his lesser works, but I really disliked it. Relentless school-boy 'humour', annoying second-person narrative
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(stitched-up stockbroker Gwen can't hold a candle to Bonanza Jellybean) and a puerile approach to sex are not a winning combination. Just...no.
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LibraryThing member Mdshrk1
Having read "Another Roadside Attraction" years ago, I thought I'd give Robbins another try. Wish I would have spent the time reading something else.
LibraryThing member Dragavon
Robbins, Tom, Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas, New York, Bantam Books, 1994.
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,
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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.”
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LibraryThing member .Monkey.
I need to reread this before I can give it a real review. All I can say is that I was enthralled, a little appalled, and a lot delighted. Which is pretty much Tom Robbins in a nutshell. Which is why he is probably my number 1 favorite author.

(Yes, this is the same "review" I gave to Jitterbug
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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.)
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LibraryThing member AliceAnna
A very enjoyable book. I truly liked all the characters. I really wish Tom Robbins wrote more frequently -- perhaps his books wouldn't be as good if he did though. A great condemnation of Late 20th Century materialism.
LibraryThing member ToddSherman
“Don’t make you laugh.”

This may not seem like a great line. The fact that this entire novel is written in second person makes this line genius. I’m not sure if this book had to be written in this POV, but it sure as hell makes it interesting. Instructive, too; especially since this is one
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of two works I’m reading as preparation for my own second-person novella.

This thing is rife with simile. I can’t remember saying that about anything else. Sure, I’ve read novels that used simile as a crutch, but Mr. Robbins dipped that implement in lead and swung it crushing to every clause with or without a purpose. It’s almost like when you trip in a pun marathon and can’t stop scraping your bloody knees along the Tartan track—you just keep on the fuck punning for the fun of it. A compulsion, maybe, that can only tire itself with endless invention. Putting brass tacks on the track only speeds up the process. And all this writer’s similes could turn smiling gurus into frowning nuns if it weren’t for the shear bombast, originality, and dedication at being the best similesmith in the smiling and frowning universe. It’s kind of exhausting and kind of exhilarating, but surely unique in a way that pangolins are unique (whether punning with those superlong tongues or not).

This . . . boy, it had a lot in it. Like a tick filled to full tension and seeking another bloated tick with which to grasp, rub, and burst those fat bodies into an ectoparasitic constellation. (𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵 kind of simile, see?) What seemed frivolous yet fun at first mutated into profound and fun. I don’t give a pangolin shit for the stock market, and yet I couldn’t stop reading about this materialist protagonist as she grappled with her burgeoning sexuality, the Sirius star system, the Bozo and Dogon peoples, and all things amphibian. All with a thieving monkey and a jade enema? Come on, this kind of thing is a typical Tuesday for my imagination, and I love, love, love that someone else out there bothered to rip that imagery from their own brain and put it into mass-printing production.

This, finally though, while entertaining and illuminating . . . did it need to be in second person? Does it matter either way? With fiction this freakish and fractious, who cares? I got what I needed from it—both technically and personally—and I’m not one to parse the difference between toads and frogs. But maybe 𝘺𝘰𝘶 are?

Don’t make me laugh.

“We, with our propensity for murder, torture, slavery, rape, cannibalism, pillage, advertising jingles, shag carpets, and golf, how could we be seriously considered as the perfection of a four-billion-year-old grandiose experiment? Perhaps as a race, we have evolved as far as we are capable, yet that by no means suggests that evolution has called it quits. In all likelihood, it has something beyond human on the drawing board. We tend to refer to our most barbaric and crapulous behavior as ‘inhuman,’ whereas, in point of fact, it is exactly human, definitively and quintessentially human, since no other creature habitually indulges in comparable atrocities. This negates neither our occasional virtues nor our aesthetic triumphs, but if a being at least a little bit more than human is not waiting around the bend of time, then evolution has suffered a premature ejaculation.”
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LibraryThing member Cecilturtle
There's no comparing Robbins to other writers - his maniacal poetic style can hypnotize or it can irritate but it cannot leave indifferent. He flirts with magic realism in this novel: characters being not only eccentric but spiritually inclined enough to defy Earth's physics. What I love most,
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however, is Robbin's ability to pull from myths, legends, observations and general arcana which he weaves into perfect logic - even if the resulting tapestry is a bit gaudy and very unique. Robbins at his best.
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LibraryThing member KristinaGiovanni
I love this book! Especially after having lived in Seattle, it's amazing how well Tom Robbins can capture the atmosphere of that city :)
Now I will have to plan a visit to Timbuktu!
LibraryThing member dulcinea14
Amusing book, but sometimes the language felt overdone, a little too clever for its own sake. To many metaphors, too much consonance (leave it to the poetry, please). It's a jaunty, musical kind of prose that I sometimes really enjoyed (his description of Chinatown toward the end of the book was a
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stunner), but when dealing with his character's speech or thoughts, it was often tiresome or too cutesy to respect.

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.
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