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Embedded in this primarily journalistic compilation are a couple of short stories, a sheaf of largely unpublished poems, and an off-beat assessment of our divided nation.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.”From the Hardcover edition.