1971; 337 pages. New Author? : No. Genre : Comedy-Drama. Overall Rating : 7*/10.
to Captain Kendrick’s Memorial Hot Dog Wildlife Preserve. There’s not a lot of wildlife – a flea
circus, a couple of snakes, and a tsetse fly entombed in amber. They do have hotdogs, of course, but there’s
no coffee or soft drinks to go along with them.
But pretty Amanda will charm you with sparkling chit-chat, and John Paul
might play his flute for you. Mon Cul
the baboon is part of the staff, not part of the exhibit. And you never know who is going to drop by
the place, and what they might bring with them.
What’s To Like...
the characters are well-developed and interesting. There are militant monks, Vatican secrets,
and FBI agents. The plotline is
non-linear, but done well enough so that is wasn’t confusing. If you are old enough to remember the 60’s,
you’ll find the mindsets in Another Roadside
Attraction very nostalgic.
you yearn to learn more about things like monarch butterflies, baboons, and
30-foot-long hot dogs, this book’s for you.
Indeed, there’s scarcely a page where Tom Robbins doesn’t go off on one
or more tangents.
The main tangent is religion, and I got the feeling that Robbins’
primary purpose in penning this was to give us his insightful and often caustic
views on the subject. Each character has
his own philosophical outlook. Marx is
an agnostic; Plucky Purcell’s a skeptic, John Paul Ziller comes off as a stoic,
and Amanda’s into the 60’s hippie-dippie stuff - worshipping the Earth Goddess,
consulting the I Ching, and having trances.
The literary accoutrements are all well and good here; unfortunately
something’s missing – a well-paced story.
Oh, Plucky purloins an artifact from the Pope, but the book’s half over
before this happens, and since the tale is told first-person and after-the-fact,
there’s really no tension generated. The
repercussions of the robbery impact our little roadside attraction, and it
could’ve made for an exciting climax, but instead the book just sort of trudges
along to the end.
you’re into musing about God, religion, and the role of the church; this can be
an enlightening read. But if you’re more
storyline-oriented (like I am), you may become frustrated by all
the tale-stifling divergences.
Kewlest New Word…
: dimly illuminated by or as if by twilight.
Synonym : Crepuscular
“There are three things that I like,”
Amanda exclaimed upon awakening from her first long trance. “These are: the butterfly, the cactus and the
Later, she amended the list to include
mushrooms and motorcycles. (pg.
“Our laws are sacred.”
“Aren’t our people sacred?”
“Until a law is removed legally from the
statute books, it must be obeyed blindly by everybody if we want to continue to
live in a democratic society and not slide back into anarchy. We’ve got to have laws and retribution. Ever since we crawled out of caves,
retribution has followed wrongdoing as the night the day. When retribution ceases to follow evil, then
the fabric of civilization begins to unravel.”
Amanda stirred the custard. “If we’ve always had retribution, how do you
know what happens when we don’t have it?” she asked. (pg.
“When following the spoor of the Mirror Eaters it is wise not to
tread on their droppings.” (pg.
I found ARA to be a bit rough around
the edges, mostly because of the weak storytelling. A number of characters are introduced and
developed, only to fade out and not return.
The pacing was uneven, and after a while, I cringed as yet another
tangent arose to slow things down.
But what saves the book from dropping into
struggled to complete it” category is the author’s innate writing
talent. Simply put, Tom Robbins is a
master with words. I still don’t care a
whit about the monarch butterflies, but I am awed by the way he tells me about them.
was Robbins’ debut novel. The next three
are Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, Still Life With Woodpecker, and Jitterbug Perfume.
I’ve read them all, and they are all polished, stellar works. Despite its shortcomings, Another Roadside Attraction was fun to read, just
to be dazzled by Robbins’ deft manipulation of the words. 7 Stars.