Wild Ducks Flying Backward

Wild Ducks Flying Backward

Tom Robbins

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0553383531

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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 Embedded in this primarily journalistic compilation are brand-new short stories, a sheaf of largely unpublished poems, and an offbeat assessment of our divided nation.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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chitchat, no pandering, no horsing around. Like the classical actors of Japan, The Doors project all the more intensity when they are silent. They even tune up with an involvement so fierce it would scare The Mamas & The Papas out of their mama pants and papa pants. The Doors. Their voice is dark and bloody, a voice from the bowels. Satanic in combustion, devouring in energy, awesome in spirit. The voice of Nietzsche, stopped short in terror, succumbing to madness, lusting for the salvation of

removes a French horn from its trunk, and enters her house—a pink house, a house the color of the sorest saddle sore Dale Evans ever sat upon—and you conclude that she must be something else. Something else, indeed. In actuality, Ruby Montana is a popular Seattle shopkeeper. She is also that city’s sweetheart of fantasy. For Ruby’s imagination isn’t simply tied to the hitching post of the make-believe cowgirl; her whole existence is an exercise in make-believe. In the world she has made for

something beyond an irrepressibly brilliant wit. Freud, you see, wasn’t whistling “Edelweiss” when he wrote that gallows humor is indicative of “a greatness of soul.” The quips of the condemned prisoner or dying patient tower dramatically above, say, sallies on TV sitcoms by reason of their gloriously inappropriate refusal, even at life’s most acute moment, to surrender to despair. The man who jokes in the executioner’s face can be destroyed but never defeated. When a venerable Zen master, upon

figured we deserved more money for candy, comic books, and other preadolescent accouterments. In those days there was a fireworks device known as a “torpedo.” Torpedoes, incongruously, were round, resembling dry, gray gumballs or jawbreakers. When you hurled one of them against a hard surface, it exploded with a loud report, like a good-size firecracker. Unbeknownst to Johnny or me, the Blowing Rock bank tellers had torpedoes on hand. When we stormed in and demanded cash, one or more tellers

only kept it ninety days. This was no adolescent rite of passage. It was 1981 and I’d been legal for so many years I could do it in my sleep. But my previous car, a hand-painted old Mercury convertible, had an air of youthful frivolity perhaps not befitting a successful author. That Caddy, however, was solid citizen. A maroon ’76 DeVille sedan, its plush interior was the color of the cranberry sauce at a Republican fund-raising dinner. Into it, I could fit my entire volleyball team, our

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