Sissy - Schicksalsjahre einer Tramperin = "Even cowgirls get the blues"

by Tom Robbins

Other authorsThomas Lindquist (Translator)
Paperback, 1988



Call number

HU 7480 S623



Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt


"This is one of those special novels--a piece of working magic, warm, funny, and sane."--Thomas Pynchon The whooping crane rustlers are girls. Young girls. Cowgirls, as a matter of fact, all "bursting with dimples and hormones"--and the FBI has never seen anything quite like them. Yet their rebellion at the Rubber Rose Ranch is almost overshadowed by the arrival of the legendary Sissy Hankshaw, a white-trash goddess literally born to hitchhike, and the freest female of them all. Freedom, its prizes and its prices, is a major theme of Tom Robbins's classic tale of eccentric adventure. As his robust characters attempt to turn the tables on fate, the reader is drawn along on a tragicomic joyride across the badlands of sexuality, wild rivers of language, and the frontiers of the mind.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member .Monkey.
As is the case with all his books, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues makes you probe your mind. What seem like wacky out-there stories with wild crazy plot-lines, really get you thinking about all sorts of philosophical, ethical, moral, etc. questions. It’s hard to describe, but once you’ve read one
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of his books you understand what I refer to.

This story is plenty humorous and amusing, alongside the thought-provoking aspects. It's well-written, entertaining, and worth a gander. I didn’t feel this was one of his best, though. But of course, I did still enjoy it. A good quote from the book that helps sum up pretty much everything about his writing is this one: “The way I figure it, Heaven and Hell are right here on Earth. Heaven is living in your hopes and Hell is living in your fears. It’s up to each individual which one he chooses.” Jelly paused. “I told that to the Chink once and he said, ‘Every fear is part hope and every hope is part fear — quit dividing things up and taking sides.’ Well, that’s the Chink for you.”
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LibraryThing member jawalter

I suppose one's tolerance for this book, or any other by Mr. Robbins, has a lot to do with how one responds to bullshit. Because, in truth, his most apparent skill is the willingness with which he flings the stuff at his readers.

I can only speak for myself, of course, but I enjoy it. I can't
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begin to imagine that Robbins actually believes half of what he writes (and if he does, what the hell does it matter anyway?), but I get a kick out of his willingness to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, onto the page and leave the rest of us to mop up the detritus.

In spite of the readily apparent flimsiness that results, what's left feel remarkably authentic. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues was a very fun read, despite its many flaws. Admittedly, Robbins self-indulgence and complete lack of discipline did get tiresome from time to time, the verve with which he wrote it provides the book with the only excuse it needs.

As far as what he or the book are attempting to say? I'll be damned if I know. He seems to have severe issues in dealing with authority figures, from the political to the personal, and it's probably this, more than any latent misogyny or objectification of women that informs his peculiar brand of feminism. That's not to say that his female (or male, for that matter) characters are immune to a deeply-buried hatred of women or a painfully obvious yearning to fetishize the human form as little more than living, breathing, sweating, stinking sex toys.

And if that doesn't constitute my own personal pile of toro feces, I don't know what will.
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LibraryThing member book_reader
After I was floored by Jitterbug Perfume, I picked up another Tom Robbins’ book Even cowgirls get the blues with a lot of expectation and the book lived up to it.

As with any Robbins’ book, it’s pointless to discuss the plot. How would it sound if I said, ‘this book is about a girl with
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abnormally huge thumbs, whose profession is hitchhiking and about a spiritual guru named Chink and a ranch run by a band of cowgirls’. Not interesting, right? Robbins’ book is not about plots. It’s about humor, the interesting use of words, the absurd-yet-funny way of bringing in two different disconnected topics and connecting them together. Oh, you should read his book to believe it.

This is probably Robbins’ most acclaimed book. It’s even made into a movie, which I came to know only after reading the back cover. Robbins creates extremely interesting characters for his books. Considering that this book was first published in 1976, it touches upon rather controversial subjects. The author generously puts in enough graphical scenes - I don’t see the need, though. The book is interesting enough without those pages.

Though I liked this book, I still prefer Jitterbug Perfume to this, probably because it was my first Robbins book.

Wikipedia entry for Tom Robbins says

His novels are complex, often wild stories with strong social undercurrents, a satirical bent, and obscure details.

I agree with the complex, wild and obscure details part, but I fail to see the satirical bent. May be I don’t have enough grey cells to understand it. All I know is Tom Robbins is a lot of fun.

If you read Scott Adams’ blog and enjoy it, then it’s highly likely that you will enjoy Tom Robbins’ books.
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LibraryThing member mongoosenamedt
male sexual fantasy without enough intellectual, interesting digressions to counteract the fact that he mary sued himself onto a ranch of fetishized and objectified women.
LibraryThing member meridius
This is one of my all-time favorites. Dedicated to the amoeba: that inveterately versatile and vagabond single cell hitchhiker, Robbins chronicles the adventures of the audaciously-thumbed Sissy Hankshaw.
Like most Robbins books, I'm always reborn a little having read and re-read them.
The first
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couple of hundred pages might seem too obtuse for some, but stick with it!
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LibraryThing member garylatman
2 thumbs up for Tom Robbins (haha, hoho, and hehe). Sissy Hankshaw's enormous thumbs made her unique and different, which she used as a defining strength. Robbins' carnival of characters also include Bonanza Jellybean, one of the cowgirls on the Rubber Rose Ranch, the Countess, an eccentric
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businessman who fashions and markets feminine hygiene products, and who owns the Rubber Rose and has hired Sissy as a model to promote his products, and the Chink, a Japanese hermit and shaman who lives in a cave in the Dakota mountains overlooking the ranch, and who has a propensity for flashing to scare away would be pilgrims and intruders. Somehow, a story about a woman who dares to be different (can she help it?) unfolds in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.
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LibraryThing member tonyalex
Sissy Hankshaw, who was born with extremely large thumbs sees them not as a deformity, but as a way to a more exciting life. I really liked the random chapters that delve into the more straightforward philosophical side of Tom Robbins (i.e. the piano keys chapter). The rest of the book is extremely
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fast paced and a little complex, but in general I liked it. The controversy surrounding this book and the author made it much more interesting to me, and was one of the reasons I picked up this book.
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LibraryThing member ahgonzales
I loved this book. Very easy read with lots of feminist musings. The narration is interesting and I like the moves between following the story line and the short writing on other subjects. Often times the narrator is directly addressing the reader. There is a lot of movement in the writing, which
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fits nicely into the hitchhiking theme.
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LibraryThing member SandiLee
I love what Tom Robbins does with the English language. It takes me a while to get through his books because I pause to marvel at every second sentence.
LibraryThing member DinadansFriend
This book is funny, sort-of. But the characters are discreet entities, so the writer does deploy some skill. Definitely an attempt at feminist humour.
LibraryThing member mikefitch
Tom's masterpiece. We are best when we do what we are destined to do.
LibraryThing member bigorangecat
I read this novel back in the day when I was smoking a LOT of pot. Totally dug it. A few years later, pot-free, a gave it a re-read. Yikes. Too cute and self-conscious. This is your brain on drugs.
LibraryThing member Crowyhead
Highly, highly influential during my highschool years. There was a girl I had a crush on to whom I would write letters and sign them "Bonanza Jellybean"...
LibraryThing member satyridae
I revisited this book with some misgivings. I read this book so many times my original copy fell apart. It was so heavily underlined and annotated that the original text was hard to make out. I was a teenager, in love with words and possibilities. I'm middle-aged now, still in love with words but
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more closed off, more apt to sneer at ingenuousness and hope. I was hesitant to open the new copy of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.

I needn't have worried. Though some of it is undeniably dated, the core of joy and playfulness shines through Robbins' philosophical musings. It was surprising how much of this book I still knew by heart though I've not read it in probably 15 years. It's a paean to love and transcendence, a delightful romp through philosophies that can seem like blunt instruments in less skillful hands.
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LibraryThing member amaraduende
This book has THE best wordplay of any novel I've ever read. I love the metaphors and the playful way Robbins uses the language that we all use... There are some very R rated scenes, some of which are funny and some just sort of annoyingly there. Overall, though, this book is a hoot.
LibraryThing member LynnB
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues has some unforgettable characters: Sissy, who has turned hitchhiking into her life's work, given her gigantic thumbs; Bonanza Jellybean and the other cowgirls at the Rubber Rose Ranch, the Countess (a feminine hygene product tycoon) and Chink the philosopher/dirty old
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The book also presents wonderful ideas about feminism (from a male author in 1976, no less), the meaning of time, of success....

What it doesn't have is much of a plot, but that doesn't seem to matter too much as lots happens and the characters are so interesting.
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LibraryThing member SoubhiKiewiet
I'm not sure why but I could never finish this one. I liked a lot of his other books... Hmmm.
LibraryThing member satyridae
Lovely to revisit this classic on audio. A few quibbles with the narration (misreadings, mispronunciations) but nothing that detracted mightily. I always forget, between re-readings, how deeply philosophical Robbins is. I remember the story but forget the endless (and endlessly delightful)
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philosophical musings. Delightful because, of course, it's a philosophy I embrace wholeheartedly.
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LibraryThing member dbsovereign
My second favorite by Robbins, I think it made a bigger impression on my lesbianic friends. At certain points I can recall laughing so hard it hurt.
LibraryThing member BookConcierge
Book on CD read by Michael Nouri

From the book jacket: The whooping crane rustlers are girls. Young girls. Cowgirls, as a matter of fact, all “bursting with dimples and hormones”—and the FBI has never seen anything quite like them. Yet their rebellion at the Rubber Rose Ranch is almost
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overshadowed by the arrival of the legendary Sissy Hankshaw, a white-trash goddess literally born to hitchhike, and the freest female of them all.

My Reactions
The last time (which was also the first time) I read anything by Tom Robbins was in 2002. It was for my F2F book club, or I don’t think I would have picked it up on my own. I vaguely remembered it was a strange plot but I enjoyed the writing style. My reactions to his writing haven’t changed.

Robbins writes ridiculously absurd storylines, interspersed with long discourses on philosophy, religion, history, etc. His characters a bigger than life and virtually all of them have some unique quirk – physical or philosophical. The “stars” of this novel are Sissy (born with extraordinarily large thumbs, perfect for hitchhiking), the Countess (a man whose business empire is built on feminine hygiene products), Bonanza Jellybean (a teenage cowgirl on the Rubber Rose Ranch), and the Chink (a Japanese American who has befriended the Native American clock people and become a sort of guru to a variety of hippie pilgrims). Oh, and let’s not forget the whooping cranes who stop at Siwash Lake on the Rubber Rose Ranch on their way two and from their traditional winter and summer nesting grounds.

If you’re having trouble figuring out how such a diverse cast could come together in a coherent plot, well, stop trying. You’ll just give yourself a headache. Robbins is nothing if not inventive in his plotting. Where his writing shines, though is in his wild descriptions / similes. A few examples:

The breeze in the grasses made a sound like a silk-lined opera coat falling to the floor of a carriage.

The sky was as tattered as a Gypsy’s pajamas. Through knife holes in the flannel overcast, July sunlight spilled…

[T]he Countess complained, his dentures working over his ivory cigarette holder like a chiropractor realigning the spine of a Chihuahua.

Entertained as I was by the occasional wild description and laugh-out-loud moment, however, in general I was bored by the book. All those interludes to wax poetic about this or that philosophy seemed nothing but an attempt to distract the reader from the lack of a story. Clearly, Robbins is not the writer for me.

Michael Nouri’s performance on the audio is wonderful. He has great pacing, and the way he interprets certain characters brings them to life.
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LibraryThing member sweetiegherkin
A young girl born with unusually enormous thumbs uses them to hitchhike. Over time, her life intersects with that of many intriguing characters, including the all-female inhabitants of a ranch originally designed to test feminine hygiene products.

I read this book over a year ago but never got
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around to reviewing it, so this review will be based on my murky memory. It was a highly bizarre book. There was definitely lots of quirky humor, and I was enjoying it in the beginning. After a while though, it started to drag as it delved into increasingly more ridiculous antics. If you enjoy magical realism, you *might* like this book. The characters were certainly unique, and Robbins's writing style is interesting. It can be a bit explicit at times, so that may also reduce its appeal for some readers.

For the audio reader, the narrator did a pretty good job with this book.
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LibraryThing member scottcholstad
Massively overrated. I've heard about this "classic" for so long that maybe my expectations were too high, but not only was I underwhelmed, but I just thought it was utter crap and have probably read thousands of books better and better written than this one. Disappointing. Not recommended!
LibraryThing member mykl-s
I enjoyed this book shortly after its paperback was published, but not so much when I tried to read it years later.
LibraryThing member heidilove
The dog chewed the cover the day I got it. Perhaps I should buy another one?
LibraryThing member skid0612
A book I stuck with if only to say I had read it. In most ways reads like the 70s novel it is. A bit dated, a touch too wacky, and an unsatisfying ending, left this reader cold. Not my cup of tea I suppose.


Original language


Original publication date



3-499-15324-6 / 9783499153242
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