Book Review: Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins

A good friend introduced me to Tom Robbins a few years back with a used copy of Jitterbug Perfume and the note, “You’ll love it, but give it time.”

He was right.

Robbins is an eccentric writer, highly philosophical and downright playful with his use of language, structure, and syntax. Reading a Tom Robbins’ novel is an experience in and of itself, and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues is by far one of the greatest literary adventures I’ve ever taken.

I’ll admit, I had high expectations for Another Roadside Attraction due to my love for his satirical work, but I only found the novel to be so-so. Granted, this was the very first novel by the author, and I could tell that the book was still an experiment for Robbins, as he was discovering his voice and style that eventually led to his cult-like following from his fans.

As a brief summary, the novel follows to exploits of a hippie-like character, Amanda, and her gang of adoring male fans. She’s sexually promiscuous (influenced by the 70s – a spirit of “free love” rules this piece), full of wanderlust, and seems to have lived more in her 20-or-so years than I could hope to live in ten lifetimes. As a character, she’s a bit far-fetched and unbelievable, as her use of language (specifically her voice) is far more advanced/mature/knowledgeable than one could ever believe for a non-educated, free-spirited, love child.

The plot is sub-par and underdeveloped, but that’s actually one of the elements of Robbins’ work that I love: his works are character-driven pieces, and the plot is not the focal-point of the work. If you get a resolution, you’re happy, but you’re equally pleased just to know what happens to the primary and secondary characters.

I found Plucky Purcell’s adventure in the monastery to be witty and fun, but the element of the karate-instruction in the Vatican was so silly, it was almost annoying.

Despite all of my criticism, I still loved the book. I loved the language, and I love Robbins’ use of loaded satire, metaphors, and witticism throughout the piece. Whether I had read Jitterbug Perfume and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues prior to this text or not, I would have immediately been a fan of Tom Robbins’ from this piece. He’s a mad genius, and this work is like taking a sneak peek into the mind of a budding child prodigy.

I strongly suggest picking it up as a first introduction to the author, or as a reflection of how much Tom Robbins’ has perfected his craft in the last 30 years!

Enjoy, my friends!

~ Victoria Elizabeth


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