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Wild Ducks Flying Backward [Paperback]

Tom Robbins

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Book Description

Aug. 29 2006 0553383531 978-0553383539 Reprint
Known for his meaty seriocomic novels, Tom Robbins’s shorter work has appeared in publications ranging from Esquire to Harper’s, from Playboy to the New York Times. Collected here for the first time in paperback, the essays, articles, observations—and even some untypical country-music lyrics—offer a rare overview of the eclectic sensibility of an American original.

Whether 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,” Tom Robbins’s briefer writings exhibit the 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 Embedded in this primarily journalistic compilation are brand-new short stories, a sheaf of largely unpublished poems, and an offbeat assessment of our divided nation. Wherever you open Wild Ducks Flying Backward, you’ll encounter the serious playfulness that percolates from the mind of a self-described “romantic Zen hedonist” and “stray dog in the banquet halls of culture.”

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Wild Ducks Flying Backward + Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account Of An Imaginative Life + Villa Incognito
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Product Description

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.

From Booklist

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)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  48 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Please Don't Judge This Book By Its Cover Jan. 3 2007
By R. Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book's halfhearted, low-budget cover screams, "I'm drivel and trash and the publisher knows it."

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.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to believe they couldn't find more interesting stuff on TR's hard drive. Aug. 25 2007
By Nicole Del Sesto - Published on Amazon.com
I'm not a fan of short stories. I'm less of a fan of gathering together a bunch of old articles and selling them as a book. I am, however, a huge fan of Tom Robbins.

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.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simply Amazing Oct. 20 2005
By Emlen P. Tetlow - Published on Amazon.com
Just when all the bad news in the world seems to have taken the joy out of life, leave it to Tom Robbins to put events in their proper place. There is no one like him in the writing universe today that can make an insane situation seem, well quite normal. Prior to this book, I've only read his novels (many times over)but that Robbins touch works perfectly well in essays and short stories. And like his novels, after reading this book, I will go back a enjoy all his prior work.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Than God for this man.... Sept. 26 2005
By Peter V. Reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
....the world would be less fun without him. Like most of his fans, I only wish he released books more frequently. I found this collection of non-fiction totally winning. It may not be "Cowgirls" or "Still Life", but then it wasn't meant to be.

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.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you expected another novel - this ain't it! Oct. 23 2005
By Espoc - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Tom Robbins' short fiction runs the gamut: from sexy and delicious to somewhat dated and irrelevant. It's a collection that spans more than 30 years, and as such is indispensible to any hard-core Robbins fan. His inimitable style is all there, but the feeling of deep satisfaction one derives from reading one of his crazy novels is missing.

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