Another Roadside Attraction

by Tom Robbins

Paperback, 1990

Call number




Bantam (1990), Edition: Reissue, 352 pages


Fantasy. Fiction. Literature. Thriller. HTML:�Written with a style and humor that haven�t been seen since Mark Twain.��Los Angeles Times What if the Second Coming didn�t quite come off as advertised? What if �the Corpse� on display in that funky roadside zoo is really who they say it is�what does that portend for the future of western civilization? And what if a young clairvoyant named Amanda reestablishes the flea circus as popular entertainment and fertility worship as the principal religious form of our high-tech age? Another Roadside Attraction answers those questions and a lot more. It tell us, for example, what the sixties were truly all about, not by reporting on the psychedelic decade but by recreating it, from the inside out. In the process, this stunningly original seriocomic thriller is fully capable of simultaneously eating a literary hot dog and eroding the borders of the mind. �Hard to put down because of the sheer brilliance and fun of the writing. The sentiments of Brautigan and the joyously compassionate omniscience of Fielding dance through the pages garbed colorfully in the language of Joyce.��Rolling Stone.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member mckenz18
This is the fourth novel I have read in Robbins’s oeuvre, and although I have six more to go, I feel comfortable saying the man can’t go wrong. He’s creative, thought-provoking, funny as hell, and he harbors a love for language and all things word-y that is infectious. Another Roadside
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Attraction is his first novel, yet unlike the majority of authors who only fine tune their voice in subsequent works, he already has a grasp on his unique style of storytelling.

Some of the reasons I enjoyed this book: hippies, mushrooms, the Paul Newmanesque Plucky Purcell (a.k.a. Brother Dallas), conspiracies within the Roman Catholic church of vast implications, flea circuses, the Infinite Goof, the traditional American staples that are hotdogs, Bow Wow Mountain (where I could see myself gladly living out the rest of my days after hitting old age), the Indo-Tibetan Circus and Giant Panda Gypsy Blues Band (where I could see myself gladly living out my youth before my retirement to Bow Wow Mountain), Tarzan movies. The list could go on, as the book is fraught with memorable characters, images, situations, and places.

Another Roadside Attraction is often credited with being a quintessential book of the 1960’s, and although there is no questioning that the novel does in many ways capture the spirit of one of the wildest decades etched in cultural memory, in many ways it goes beyond being a mere time capsule and puts the time period in its ideal mold, rather than definitive. Take this small piece from the book:

“While strolling through her cactus garden one warmish June morning, Amanda came upon an old Navajo man painting pictures in the sand.
‘What is the function of the artist?’ Amanda demanded of the talented trespasser.
‘The function of the artist,’ the Navajo answered, ‘is to provide what life does not.’”

This sums up what I think Robbins excels at, especially in terms of thinking of this book as being iconic of the 1960’s. Yes, in Another Roadside Attraction he picks up on some essential quality that makes up the backbone of the time period, but he also creates it anew, and this vision is uniquely particular to Tom Robbins and infinitely enjoyable for the reader. I recommend this book highly to anyone other than you stiffly stiffersons out there, as there is drug use and numerous sex scenes. Also, there are some ideas put forth that may offend staunch Christians, but, ya know, don’t be so serious. It’s fiction (plus, if you hold on to your beliefs but imagine the implications were the book’s plot hypothetically true, you’ll find a feast where the expression “food for thought” can be applied).

This book is certainly going in my “To Re-Read” pile. A last quote from this book to enjoy (although I can’t remember where it is in the book and I am quoting from memory, I think I’m pretty close):

“Life is a fortune cookie in which someone forgot to put the fortune.”

Think about it.
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LibraryThing member wflooter480
Loved it! The writing is so descriptive and brilliant that I find myself able to still smell and feel what he wrote after reading it years ago. The world-view in the book is at once real, ridiculous, hilarious and thought provoking.
LibraryThing member delirium
I wasn't a fan of this one. I love Tom Robbins' writing, but I can't stand Amanda, who Robbins idolizes. I just wanted to tell her that condoms are cheap and easily accessible.
LibraryThing member gypsysmom
This is the third book I've read recently that is an experimental search for a philosophy to live by and it is by far the best. Tom Robbins is a master at weaving interesting characters and places into a narrative that is both literary and scatalogical. This, I believe, was his first work and I
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think it will stand as a monument to him.

The story revolves around the Captain Kendrick's Memorial Hot Dog Wildlife Preserve run by John Paul and Amanda Ziller. Amanda is a vegetarian and butterfly fancier. John Paul is a sculptor, musician and magician. Also living at the preserve is Amanda's son, Thor, Mon Cul, a baboon, and Marx Marvelous, a scientist who has recently dropped out of a prestigious think tank. Their friend, Plucky Purcell, stumbled upon a sect of murderous monks and infiltrates them. While in Rome to teach karate to the Pope's Swiss Guard, he is able to enter the catacombs under the Vatican after an earthquake. He helps himself to some gold and then discovers a well-preserved mummy which he believes to be Jesus Christ. If he's right, then Christ never rose from the grave and all of Christianity is a lie. He manages to get "The Corpse" back to the preserve but then they can't agree what to do with it. Vatican officials and FBI agents are closing in. The ending is as offbeat as the rest of the book.

This book should make you think about organized religion and, if you are a Christian, make you question your upbringing but it doesn't deny god. Even if you don't like the message I think the quirky characters, the oddball stories and the description of the Washington flora and fauna are worth the ride.
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LibraryThing member dbsovereign
I love the Robbins' tone - he is irreverant yet compassionate, and even the absurd parts are true. This is still my favorite of his novels as it captures the flavor of a time I lived through.
LibraryThing member Gwendydd
This would be well worth reading for the language if nothing else: beautiful prose, with turns of phrase that make you laugh out loud. Reminiscent of Pynchon, but more coherent. The characters are all so extreme that they are almost caricatures, yet still engaging and believable within the zany
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world of the book.

The story takes a while to get going, but I didn't mind because the characters and the language were so much fun. Once it does get going, it is ultimately about the search for meaning and the nature of religion (and the religion of nature).
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LibraryThing member yukonmild
wow - I read this book more than ten years ago and loved it. I then was asked to read it last month for book club, and found that it was the most uninspiring, dated thing I have ever read. I couldn't finish it and I just didn't relate to any character. I guess this really does show how what you
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read tells a lot about where you are in your life. Ten years ago I wanted to be sooooo different and misunderstood. Now I think it just doesn't matter.
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LibraryThing member Omrythea
Interesting, zany fun... and some spicy scenes to boot. An odd sort of humor, but engaging.
LibraryThing member ChristopherTurner
Whimsical and tagential, it can meander at times, though it takes the reader into interesting places if you dont mind drifting in that direction already. I often find that the season I read a book can influence the way I read it and I read this in the summer, so I had a very relaxed attitude when I
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first picked it up. I think you need to keep that all the way through.
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LibraryThing member nog
One of the most popular hippie novels of its day, it probably doesn't age too well, so I'm not sure about the stars I give here. Something I read during my early college days. Robbins merely churned out more of the same after this, with enough highly sympathetic female leads to ensure him of many
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exciting groupie experiences for years to come.
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LibraryThing member oda_garin
Not bad, but not his best, either. It's an excellent rainy day afternoon book though.
LibraryThing member RonaBradley
This might actually be my favorite Tom Robbins. Well, but then there's Skinny Legs and All, and there's Jitterbug Perfume...
Another Roadside Attraction's plot, story line, characters, and outlandishly crazy descriptive sentences are beautifully classic Robbins. If you've never read him, and you're
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stringently religious (in the Judeo-Christian sort of way, anyway) it's probably not for you. If, on the other hand, you like to look at "serious" things in a humorous light, Tom's your guy.
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LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
At the time I read this, I was stunned that literature like this existed. Now, after having read a great deal more, and a great deal more Robbins, I realize this was a great attempt at something he would later succeed at doing--creating a magical world within our own. The characters are not
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memorable except for their eccentricities, which makes them only mildly interesting.

But this is not a bad place to start.
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LibraryThing member whiteice
Liked the story. Didn't like the end. Had a little trouble with the writing style.
LibraryThing member amaraduende
Maybe this isn't as good as "Even Cowgirls..." or "Jitterbug Perfume" or "Skinny Legs and All." Maybe I just can't read more than one Tom Robbins book in any one-week period.

Either way, I returned this book without finishing it. It just didn't grab me.
LibraryThing member sfisk
Robbins in fine form !
LibraryThing member LyndaInOregon
Robbins' riff on organized religion is still as sharp and funny as it was when it was written half a century ago.
LibraryThing member 5hrdrive
How come no one ever told me about Tom Robbins? I had to randomly discover him in my own, not sure quite how, but I've been looking for exactly this style for I don't know how long. A readable Pynchon, that's what he is. Loved it.
LibraryThing member wickenden
The image of Amanda and her butterflies has stayed with me. I thought of it recently when reading The Satanic Verses when an erstwhile prophetess is clothed only in them. And Jesus, found in the Vatican in a secret room we all know exists -- this is just too good. My favorite of the Robbins books I
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LibraryThing member AliceAnna
I first read this book at least 45 years ago and didn't remember anything about it. I'm not sure that it has aged well in that the whole hippie culture feels quaint to me rather than edgy as it probably was when first released in 1971. It is still quirky and thought-provoking, though. My biggest
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beef with the book has nothing to do with its treatment of Christianity, but rather the fact that Robbins goes on and on and on and on and on with his theories ad nauseum. Marx Marvelous will simply not shut up about his theories and the book becomes bogged down and very very tedious to read at times. Even Robbins knew that he went on too long with some of it as shown by his actually including the words blah blah blah into Marx's arguments which are falling on Amanda's deaf ears. Blah blah blah indeed. It put me in mind of the gab sessions in the dorm that were more fueled by too much weed than by good ideas. Very self-indulgent stuff. If some of this were edited out, I would give the book a much higher rating because Tom Robbins imagination creates a such a fantastical, fun world.
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LibraryThing member thebradking
This is the best Robbins book -- and I've made it a point to re-read this on a regular basis. You should too.
LibraryThing member cpprpnny770
funny premise of a bunch of hippies who find the body of christ in the catacombs of the vatican. Typical Tom Robbins eccentric characters and hilarious plot
LibraryThing member mykl-s
Another one I remember reading some years ago, without now recalling its details.




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