Have You Read?: A roller-coaster wheelchair ride | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Have You Read?: A roller-coaster wheelchair ride

Dan Thomas

One particularly apt critic once wrote that Tom Robbins writes like Dolly Parton looks.

That epigram has lasted because it’s right on the money for an odd parallel between the outlandish country singer and the tendency of Robbins’ top-heavy prose bursting from the seams of the page. It also explains why I probably didn’t appreciate the author of every budding anarchist’s second-favorite book, “Still Life With the Woodpecker,” appropriately until I got rid of my television.

That’s a move that Switters – the protagonist of Robbins’ 2000 novel “Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates” – pulls, except that it’s the television of his beloved Suzy that he throws something through.

Readers might appreciate the silence: Robbins’ sentences are dense, but he seems to revel in contradictions in “Fierce Invalids,” which has a gun-toting peacenik CIA agent who spurns religion but practices Zen meditation for a wheelchair-bound protagonist.

Before it’s over, the book – which culls its title from a Rimbaud poem – manages to touch on Catholicism, Islam, mysticism and pyramid power (like “Still Life,” come to think about it) before it’s all over. Think William Faulkner with a head full of metaphysics and a snootful of speed: It’ll ring in your inner ear long after you finish it.

– Dan Thomas writes for Lake Tahoe Action and doesn’t own a television.