Synopses & Reviews
Known for his meaty seriocomic novels expansive works that are simultaneously lowbrow and highbrow Tom Robbins has also published over the years a number of short pieces, predominantly nonfiction. His travel articles, essays, and tributes to actors, musicians, sex kittens, and thinkers have appeared in publications ranging from Esquire
, from Playboy
to the New York Times, High Times
, and Life
. A generous sampling, collected here for the first time and including works as diverse as scholarly art criticism and some decidedly untypical country-music lyrics, Wild Ducks Flying Backward
offers a rare sweeping overview of the eclectic sensibility of an American original.
Whether he is rocking with the Doors, depoliticizing Picasso's Guernica, lamenting the angst-ridden state of contemporary literature, or drooling over tomato sandwiches and a species of womanhood he calls the genius waitress, Robbins's briefer writings often exhibit the same five traits that perhaps best characterize his novels: an imaginative wit, a cheerfully brash disregard for convention, a sweetly nasty eroticism, a mystical but keenly observant eye, and an irrepressible love of language. Embedded in this primarily journalistic compilation are a couple of short stories, a sheaf of largely unpublished poems, and an off-beat assessment of our divided nation. And wherever we open Wild Ducks Flying Backward, we're apt to encounter examples of the intently serious playfulness that percolates from the mind of a self-described romantic Zen hedonist and stray dog in the banquet halls of culture.
"The author of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Still Life with Woodpecker has regularly published shorter pieces in Esquire, Playboy, the New York Times and elsewhere. The whimsical, quixotic nature of that work comes through in this hit-and-miss affair one that remains woefully short on fiction, focusing mostly on the author's travel writing, essays, celebrity profiles and poetry. The best travel piece, 'The Day the Earth Spit Wart Hogs,' finds Robbins traversing a big game park in Tanzania. His commentary on the '60s, the legacy of burger mogul Ray Kroc and the prose of Thomas Pynchon remains trenchant and provocative; other pieces are dated to the point of irrelevance (his foreword to Terrance McKenna's 1992 The Archaic Revival). As a poet, Robbins is obvious and heavy-handed, but occasionally he hits the kind of mystical note that characterizes 'Catch 28' and makes his florid imagery work. The fiction is brief and mostly forgettable. But an essay called 'In Defiance of Gravity' starts as a riff on an obscure club and winds up being an ode to the combination of unconventionality and humor that define Robbins's career as a writer. Agent, Phoebe Larmore. (Sept. 6)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The whirling dervish lit-hippie of Seattle fires off a shotgun-full of enthusiasms at whatever strikes his fancy and occasionally hits." Kirkus Reviews
"Robbins' funny and astute short works shimmer with original and piquant descriptions, sensual delight, and a firm grasp of human nature and history." Booklist
"[This is] a fan's book, and Robbins' following is among the most loyal and ecstatic in contemporary literature....Wild Ducks Flying Backward provides perspective on what Robbins has already written as well as what he has yet to write." The Oregonian (Portland, OR)
For the first time comes a collection of short writings from the New York Times bestselling author of Villa Incognito and "one of the wildest and most entertaining novelists in the world" (The Financial Times of London).
About the Author
Tom Robbins is the author of eight novels. When not roaming, he lives in the Seattle area.