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Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climatesby Tom Robbins
Synopses & Reviews
Every once in a while a writer emerges who is so fresh, so original they become the prototype for a new style. They become elemental. You can tell that a writer has achieved this status when their name is used in a sentence like this: "This spare, hilarious, angst-ridden story is equal parts Carver, Sedaris, and Salinger." For the past three decades, Tom Robbins's name has helped describe countless exuberant, subversive, cerebral, libidinous, psychedelic romps through the weirdly conflicted mores of the late 20th century. However, as Robbins reminds readers in this, his spectacular, seventh novel, there's still nothing like the original.
Like all of Robbins's fiction, the compellingly convoluted plot of Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates revolves around a spectacular, larger-than-life character. And, even by Robbins's standards, Switters is a doozy. Propelled through life by the most improbable, outrageous collection of contradictions in all of literature (he's an anarchist working for the CIA, a wheelchair-bound world traveler, etc.) Switters finds himself in the strangest situations (plowing through the South American jungle in order to free a decrepit parrot), in league with the oddest people (misshapen shamans, renegade nuns), and humming the least likely tunes ("Send in the Clowns"). That Robbins used this mess of material to effect a sort of clandestine clarity is evidence of his underlying seriousness, and of his continued mastery of the genre he invented. Martin, Powells.com
In Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, his seventh and biggest novel, the wise, witty, always gutsy Tom Robbins brings onstage the most complex and compelling character he has ever created.
Switters is a contradiction for all seasons: an anarchist who works for the government, a pacifist who carries a gun, a vegetarian who sops up ham gravy, a cyberwhiz who hates computers, a robust bon vivant who can be as squeamish as any fop, a man who, though obsessed with the preservation of innocence, is aching to deflower his high-school-age stepsister (only to become equally enamored of a nun ten years his senior).
Yet there is nothing remotely wishy-washy about Switters. He doesn't merely pack a pistol. He is a pistol.
And as we dog Switters's strangely elevated heels across four continents, in and out of love and danger, Robbins explores, challenges, mocks, and celebrates virtually every major aspect of our mercurial era.
As many readers well know, to describe a Tom Robbins plot does not begin to describe a Tom Robbins novel. Moreover, the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author, with his love of language, nuance, and surprise, is as opposed to story summations as J.D. Salinger. It is revealing, however, to learn what things Robbins lists as having influenced the writing of Fierce Invalids:
"This book was inspired by an entry from Bruce Chatwin's journal, by a CIA agent I met in Southeast Asia, by the mystery surrounding the lost prophecy of the Virgin of Fatima, by the increasing evidence that the interplay of opposites is the engine that runs the universe, and by embroidered memories of old Terry and the Pirates comic books."
Robbins also has said that throughout the writing of Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates he was guided by the advice of Julia Child: "Learn to handle hot things. Keep your knives sharp. Above all, have a good time."
Perhaps that is why he has managed to write a provocative, rascally novel that takes no prisoners and yet is upbeat, romantic, meaningful, adventurous, edifying, and fun.
"Robbins is a great writer...and definitely a provocative rascal." The Tennessean
"As clever and witty a novel as anyone has written in a long time....The plot is sustained by [Robbins's] usual virtuoso writing and brilliant flashes of insight....Robbins takes readers on a wild, delightful ride....A delight from beginning to end." Buffalo News
"Robbins's seventh novel is an incredibly humorous and completely outlandish romp through the world of international intelligence." Booklist
"Best-selling author Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues) balances the comic and the cosmic much as a juggler might balance a kitchen chair on a spoon. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"Dangerous? Wicked? Forbidden? You bet....Pour yourself a bowl of chips and dig in." Daily News, New York
"Whoever said truth is stranger than fiction never read a Tom Robbins novel....Clever, creative, and witty, Robbins tosses off impassioned observations like handfuls of flower petals." The San Diego Union-Tribune
Now in paperback comes the newest bestseller by the author of Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas and Skinny Legs and All. Robbins explores, challenges, mocks, and celebrates virtually every major aspect of our contemporary era as he brings onstage the most complex and compelling character he's ever created.
The witty and always gutsy Tom Robbins creates his most complex and compelling character yet: Switters, a government worker, vegetarian, and pacifist who not only carries a pistol he is a pistol!
Switters is a contradiction for all seasons: an anarchist who works for the government, a pacifist who carries a gun, a vegetarian who sops up ham gravy, yet there is nothing remotely wishy-washy about Switters. He doesn't merely pack a pistol. He is a pistol. The seventh, and perhaps most complex novel to date, from the author of 'Still Life With Woodpecker' and 'Another Roadside Attraction'.
About the Author
Tom Robbins has been called "a vital natural resource" by the Portland Oregonian, "one of the wildest and most entertaining novelists in the world" by the Financial Times of London, and "the most dangerous writer in the world today" by Fernanda Pivano of Italy's Corriere della Sera. A Southerner by birth, Robbins has lived in and around Seattle since 1962.
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