Another Roadside Attraction: A Novel

Another Roadside Attraction: A Novel

by Tom Robbins

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Overview

“Written with a style and humor that haven’t been seen since Mark Twain.”—Los Angeles Times

What if the Second Coming didn’t quite come off as advertised? What if “the Corpse” on display in that funky roadside zoo is really who they say it is—what does that portend for the future of western civilization? And what if a young clairvoyant named Amanda reestablishes the flea circus as popular entertainment and fertility worship as the principal religious form of our high-tech age? Another Roadside Attraction answers those questions and a lot more. It tell us, for example, what the sixties were truly all about, not by reporting on the psychedelic decade but by recreating it, from the inside out. In the process, this stunningly original seriocomic thriller is fully capable of simultaneously eating a literary hot dog and eroding the borders of the mind.

“Hard to put down because of the sheer brilliance and fun of the writing. The sentiments of Brautigan and the joyously compassionate omniscience of Fielding dance through the pages garbed colorfully in the language of Joyce.”—Rolling Stone

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553897883
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/17/2003
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 16,973
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Tom Robbins has been called “a vital natural resource” by The Oregonian, “one of the wildest and most entertaining novelists in the world” by the Financial Times of London, and “the most dangerous writer in the world today” by Fernanda Pivano of Italy’s Corriere della Sera. A Southerner by birth, Robbins has lived in and around Seattle since 1962.

Hometown:

LaConner, Washington

Date of Birth:

July 22, 1936

Place of Birth:

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Read an Excerpt

The magician's underwear has just been found in a cardboard suitcase floating in a stagnant pond on the outskirts of Miami.  However significant that discovery may be—and there is the possibility that it could alter the destiny of each and every one of us—it is not the incident with which to begin this report.

In the suitcase with the mystic unmentionables were pages and pages torn from a journal which John Paul Ziller had kept on one of his trips through Africa.  Or was it India?  The journal began thusly:  "At midnight, the Arab boy brings me a bowl of white figs.  His skin is very golden and I try it on for size.  It doesn't keep out mosquitoes.  Nor stars. The rodent of ecstasy sings by my bedside."  And it goes on:  "in the morning there are signs of magic everywhere.  Some archaeologists from the British Museum discover a curse.  The natives are restless.  A maiden in a nearby village has been carried off by a rhinoceros.  Unpopular pygmies gnaw at the foot of the enigma."  That was the beginning of the journal.  But not the beginning of this report.

Neither the FBI nor the CIA will positively identify the contents of the suitcase as the property of John Paul Ziller.  But their reluctance to specify is either a bureaucratic formality or a tactical deceit.  Who else but Ziller, for God's sake, wore jockey shorts made from the skins of tree frogs?

At any rate, let us not loiter in the arena of hot events.  Despite the agents of crisis who dictate the drafting of this report, despite the spiraling zeitgeist that underscores its urgency, despite the worldwide moral structure that may hang in the balance, despite that, the writer of this document is no journalist, nor is he a scholar, and while he is quite aware of the potential historical importance of his words, still he is not likely to allow objectivity to nudge him off the pillar of his own perspective.  And his perspective has its central focus, the enormity of public events notwithstanding, the girl: the girl, Amanda.

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Another Roadside Attraction 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Copyrighted in 1971, during the troubled days of hippies, mind altering drugs (LSD was legal) 'God is dead' pronouncements, and massive distrust of our federal government, the novel is populated with strange-behaving characters given names such as Nuclear Phyllis, Nearly Normal Jimmy, Plucky Purcell and a domesticated, babysitting, checker playing baboon, named Mon Cul. One might think these were entirely fabricated monikers, however, my older brother (Crazy Brother Pat) who inhabited a commune during this same period, had friend's named Tommy Tornado and Spurt. Just, 'Spurt'. Barely dated by the three decades since it was penned, the book wears well on the reader and gives a damn good taste of just how screwed up we were in those days searching for mystical or drug driven answers to our questions. (In those years I honestly believed that the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band dinner-plate-sized, black, grooved phonograph album, had all the answers I needed.) In this novel, artist, musician, and magician, six foot, six inch, John Paul Ziller, adorned simply with only nose-bone and lion-cloth and overbite-burdened Amanda (psychic, mushroom and butterfly expert) and her bright-eyed infant son Thor, romp through the emerald green and sodden Washington State backwoods. Using John Paul's immense artist income they lease and then remodel an abandoned roadside cafe fitting its roof with a custom painted (by JPZ) thirty-foot long hot dog and stuffing the insides with wieners, steam warmed buns, snakes, a costumed flea circus and, around page 247 . . . a Corpse in the pantry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first read "Another Roadside Attraction" as a teenager in the late 70', (before I'd smoked my first joint even!). Whole files of it's indisputable intelligence have resided in my mind, and thousands of wisps of its indestructable emotional morality have floated around my soul, since. Amanda's final words to Marx Marvelous have come to save the day at several agonized junctures in my path. Passages describing John Paul Ziller's musical philosophy resonated so strongly with my instincts as to give me an unbreakable yet flexible outlook I carry with me onstage every time I perform. As a novel, ARA has it all: a driving central plot, extremely rich characters, multiple themes (authority vs. individuality, magic as a practical tool for everyday life, the vast extent yet eventual limitations of rationality, the enormous consequences of official mythmaling, etc). Through it all laughs the ummistakable voice of Robbins, shown in full flower to a global audience for the first time in this book. As he usually did through his earlier works, Robbins even self-indulgently (as Charlie Kaufman does decades later with his screenplay for "Adaptation") writes himself into the rollercoaster proceedings, with surprisingly happy results. I reread ARA every 5 to 10 years, and while I do still find new angles from time to time, the experience is usually more like returning to your hometown at Christmas, only to find that your high-school buddies have been learning and growing at least as much as you have, and are maybe even more fun to ne with now. If you've already read other Robbins novels but skipped this one, pick it up & see how it all started, with most of the traits you know & love already there on the page. If you've read it already, pick it up again; its as good as you remember. And if you've yet to be exposed to Robbins, I highly suggest you make it happen, and that you start here!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! You would've thought the religious backdrop was happening today instead of 40 years ago. Robbins is a fantastic author when it comes to portraying colorful characters you can envision in your mind, making his books classics for generations to come.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was great for all those introspective people out there who are pissed off at religion and the Church in general but have no way to express it. i was one of them, but after reading this my paradigm shifted, and i'm more at peace with everything now, somehow. i know it's cheesy to say that this book changed my life, but really, what book doesn't change your life, at least a little? easy to read, and it draws you in with its quirkiness from the first page and its blatant and unforgiving sexuality. a true sagittarian, this book will leave you reeling.
Sam Kirby More than 1 year ago
Good read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Amanda, her green eyes and her lisp changed my life forever. I read this book 2 years ago and I still think about her almost everyday.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While I loved this book and always will, Robbins's EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES for me is his best work. This novel comes in a strong second. ANOTHER ROADSIDE ATTRACTION is by far one of the funniest and most memorable books I've ever come across. It's going to make some angry--the religious right probably--but then, if a book doesn't disturb you on some level it's not worth reading, in my opinion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book turns Western civilization on its ear, without hurting it! It's been very difficult to read anything else since.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although the subject matter may seem initially to be offhanded and offensive to some, this wonderful book not only builds faith by testing it but bombards the reader with well-placed and well-spoken humor throughout. Truly a must read.
Omrythea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting, zany fun... and some spicy scenes to boot. An odd sort of humor, but engaging.
sfisk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Robbins in fine form !
Arctic-Stranger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At the time I read this, I was stunned that literature like this existed. Now, after having read a great deal more, and a great deal more Robbins, I realize this was a great attempt at something he would later succeed at doing--creating a magical world within our own. The characters are not memorable except for their eccentricities, which makes them only mildly interesting. But this is not a bad place to start.
mckenz18 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the fourth novel I have read in Robbins¿s oeuvre, and although I have six more to go, I feel comfortable saying the man can¿t go wrong. He¿s creative, thought-provoking, funny as hell, and he harbors a love for language and all things word-y that is infectious. Another Roadside Attraction is his first novel, yet unlike the majority of authors who only fine tune their voice in subsequent works, he already has a grasp on his unique style of storytelling. Some of the reasons I enjoyed this book: hippies, mushrooms, the Paul Newmanesque Plucky Purcell (a.k.a. Brother Dallas), conspiracies within the Roman Catholic church of vast implications, flea circuses, the Infinite Goof, the traditional American staples that are hotdogs, Bow Wow Mountain (where I could see myself gladly living out the rest of my days after hitting old age), the Indo-Tibetan Circus and Giant Panda Gypsy Blues Band (where I could see myself gladly living out my youth before my retirement to Bow Wow Mountain), Tarzan movies. The list could go on, as the book is fraught with memorable characters, images, situations, and places.Another Roadside Attraction is often credited with being a quintessential book of the 1960¿s, and although there is no questioning that the novel does in many ways capture the spirit of one of the wildest decades etched in cultural memory, in many ways it goes beyond being a mere time capsule and puts the time period in its ideal mold, rather than definitive. Take this small piece from the book:¿While strolling through her cactus garden one warmish June morning, Amanda came upon an old Navajo man painting pictures in the sand. `What is the function of the artist?¿ Amanda demanded of the talented trespasser. `The function of the artist,¿ the Navajo answered, `is to provide what life does not.¿¿This sums up what I think Robbins excels at, especially in terms of thinking of this book as being iconic of the 1960¿s. Yes, in Another Roadside Attraction he picks up on some essential quality that makes up the backbone of the time period, but he also creates it anew, and this vision is uniquely particular to Tom Robbins and infinitely enjoyable for the reader. I recommend this book highly to anyone other than you stiffly stiffersons out there, as there is drug use and numerous sex scenes. Also, there are some ideas put forth that may offend staunch Christians, but, ya know, don¿t be so serious. It¿s fiction (plus, if you hold on to your beliefs but imagine the implications were the book¿s plot hypothetically true, you¿ll find a feast where the expression ¿food for thought¿ can be applied).This book is certainly going in my ¿To Re-Read¿ pile. A last quote from this book to enjoy (although I can¿t remember where it is in the book and I am quoting from memory, I think I¿m pretty close): ¿Life is a fortune cookie in which someone forgot to put the fortune.¿ Think about it.
oda_garin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not bad, but not his best, either. It's an excellent rainy day afternoon book though.
RonaBradley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This might actually be my favorite Tom Robbins. Well, but then there's Skinny Legs and All, and there's Jitterbug Perfume...Another Roadside Attraction's plot, story line, characters, and outlandishly crazy descriptive sentences are beautifully classic Robbins. If you've never read him, and you're stringently religious (in the Judeo-Christian sort of way, anyway) it's probably not for you. If, on the other hand, you like to look at "serious" things in a humorous light, Tom's your guy.
praymont on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tom Robbins serves up a hippy-fied Nietzsche. The old god is dead -- they literally find his corpse -- and the old religion is to be replaced by some sort of nature mysticism. We are all 'slowed down light,' at one with the energy at the heart of everything. This sort of thing can easily become a big, flaky mess, but after about fifty pages I succumbed to the grooviness of it all -- well, I enjoyed the story but wasn't swept up by the New Age philosophy. Robbins' figurative writing is especially good, and funny. Robbins gets extra marks for having one of his characters demand that the auto makers build an electric car (in a book written in 1971). He gets more bonus points for sticking in a reference to Vonnegut's 'Bokonon'.Allegedly, Elvis Presley was reading Another Roadside Attraction just before he died. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing....
wflooter480 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved it! The writing is so descriptive and brilliant that I find myself able to still smell and feel what he wrote after reading it years ago. The world-view in the book is at once real, ridiculous, hilarious and thought provoking.
ChristopherTurner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Whimsical and tagential, it can meander at times, though it takes the reader into interesting places if you dont mind drifting in that direction already. I often find that the season I read a book can influence the way I read it and I read this in the summer, so I had a very relaxed attitude when I first picked it up. I think you need to keep that all the way through.
nog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the most popular hippie novels of its day, it probably doesn't age too well, so I'm not sure about the stars I give here. Something I read during my early college days. Robbins merely churned out more of the same after this, with enough highly sympathetic female leads to ensure him of many exciting groupie experiences for years to come.
cpprpnny770 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
funny premise of a bunch of hippies who find the body of christ in the catacombs of the vatican. Typical Tom Robbins eccentric characters and hilarious plot
yukonmild on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
wow - I read this book more than ten years ago and loved it. I then was asked to read it last month for book club, and found that it was the most uninspiring, dated thing I have ever read. I couldn't finish it and I just didn't relate to any character. I guess this really does show how what you read tells a lot about where you are in your life. Ten years ago I wanted to be sooooo different and misunderstood. Now I think it just doesn't matter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RF81 More than 1 year ago
Robbins' characters are so fantastical and his storyline so unique, I try to imagine how someone could possibly summarize one of his books in a "Cliff's Notes" sort of thing? This is my second favorite of his novels ("Jitterbug Perfume" being the first.)  But ALL of his writing is highly recommended.  It's genius.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Right behind 'Jitterbug Perfume' as my favorite Robbins novel, it's another quirky wild ride through the imagination of one of our best writers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A classic, like everything else Tom Robbins has written.  For me, this one runs a close second to Robbins' "Jitterbug Perfume."  A master of the art of language, Robbins will delight you page after page after page.