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 Embedded in this primarily journalistic compilation are brand-new short stories, a sheaf of largely unpublished poems, and an offbeat assessment of our divided nation.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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of men. But I digress. My little group was in northwestern Sumatra to raft the Alas, a remote river that cuts through the rainforest with a silver track, offering a few thrilling rapids, but, most alluringly, daily opportunities to spy on truly wild orangutans and, if we were lucky, an Asian rhino or a tiger or two. (We tried not to consider possible encounters with cobras or kraits.) An exploratory party from Sobek, the California-based adventure company, had accomplished the very first

Lou chugs before the big barrel race), you would be amazed by both the extent of her collections and the artistry with which they are displayed. Every room is teeming: cookie jars, candlesticks, lamps (lava, figurative, and magic spinning), wall fish, ice buckets, ashtrays, bookends, German mythological prints, ranch furniture, Pee-wee Hermanesque gewgaws, Hollywood dime store Wild West memorabilia, and—in the Flamingo Room, the den where Ruby hopes to be sitting “when they drop the bomb”—a bar

reverence, and restraint. The fact that playfulness—a kind of divine playfulness intended to lighten man’s existential burden and promote what Joseph Campbell called “the rapture of being alive”—lies near the core of Zen, Taoist, Sufi, and Tantric teachings is lost on most westerners: working stiffs and intellectuals alike. Even scholars who acknowledge the playful undertone in those disciplines treat it with condescension and disrespect, never mind that it’s a worldview arrived at after

symbols), and some, it would appear, just an outburst of pleasurable doodling. The majority of the drawings are concerned with game, for the artists who chipped them were hunter-gatherers, and they may or may not include human figures. In addition, there are highly mannered petroglyphs and examples that are completely abstract. The rock panels at the portal to North Canyon support a smattering of curvilinear abstractions, including the mysterious dot patterns that are characteristic of Great

hard-nosed analysis. The human imagination has always searched for abstract symbols with which to express itself. We need extend our evaluation of Kenney no further than the actual formal means by which he has manifested that search in order to reach a full experiential appreciation of the visionary phenomena that have informed and intuited it. First, let us divide Kenney’s lifework thus far into two bodies: that done prior to 1962 and that executed thereafter. Actually, of course, there are

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