Monday, January 17, 2005

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins

The latest audiobook from the library. I remember years ago seeing a friend with a copy, and I think I can unequivocally say that he liked this book. His and the book’s counter culture view of the world and of literature are one and the same. I didn’t like it as much, but there were parts and ideas that did catch my interest.

Most reviews I found on the Internet were about the movie instead of the book (Which was almost universally panned, by the way, why anyone would try to make this book into a movie is beyond me, with Pat Morita as the Chink for crying out loud) but those that were about the book started out by saying the book was about Sissy Hankshaw, a girl born with obnoxiously big thumbs that carried her into the hitchhiking hall of fame. I’m sorry. This book is no more about Sissy Hankshaw and her thumbs than Moby-Dick is about Ishmael and the restlessness that takes him to the sea. This book is about looking at life in a way different than western society has demanded, life not measured out in days and years but life not measured at all, life experienced for what it has to offer rather than regimented to fit some false construction. That’s what the book is about and that’s interesting, but too much of Sissy and her big thumbs get in the way of enjoying that.

I think what I liked best about it was the freedom with which it was written, both in terms of structure and narrative voice. Although sometimes I thought Robbins’ metaphors were a little far-fetched and stupid. Whatever I write next I would like it to be freer than what I am writing now, unrestrained by period or structure. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues is a lot like that, more about Robbins and his own quest for understanding than it is about any of his characters.

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