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Wild Ducks Flying Backward Paperback – Aug 29 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Robbins' belief in the power of "defiant humor," exuberant love of language, and playful Zen perspective are key elements in his zestfully comic and cosmic novels, including his most recent, Villa Incognito (2003). It is, therefore, a great pleasure to find this psychedelic son of Mark Twain, this metaphor-slinging, myth-steeped champion of liberation directly addressing his aesthetic and spiritual concerns in this retrospective collection of essays, poetry, and short stories. Robbins' funny and astute short works shimmer with original and piquant descriptions, sensual delight, and a firm grasp of human nature and history. He displays his critical chops in an incandescent review of a 1967 Doors concert, and a richly argued recent essay in praise of "crazy wisdom." He marvels at nature in a vivid account of a journey to the Okavango Delta in Botswana, offers resonant tributes to Joseph Campbell and Terence Mc-Kenna, and states his writer's credo: "We are in this life to enlarge the soul, liberate the spirit, and light up the brain"--a mission he fulfills with verve. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
To judge this book by its cover would be a tragic mistake.
In this collection of essays, articles and columns written for various publications over the years, Tom Robbins proves himself wittier than Dorothy Parker, more colorful than Hunter S. Thompson, sharper in perception than Andy Rooney.
Piercing, even. A journalist of the highest order.
It's worth the price of the book just to read Miniskirt Feminism, a reminiscence of the 60's originally published in the New York Times (1995).
Buy the book. Throw away the ugly dust cover. You won't be disappointed.
While it was good to read some Tom again, I can't say I was tremendously impressed by this selection of "short writings." Personally, in terms of cleaning out a hard drive and putting it in novel form, I much prefer Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time I did enjoy some of Tom's poetry, and the homage to the Doors but other than that, the material was seriously dated.
Hopefully there will be a new novel soon. I miss him. And these last two forays (this and Villa Incognito) have left me wanting.
Like his best fiction though, Robbins will give you some laughs while you're reading, and some things to think about when you put the book down.