Villa Incognito

book coverIt’s difficult not to like a book that begins “It has been reported that Tanuki fell from the sky using his scrotum as a parachute.” Tom Robbins has a habit of saying plainly ridiculous things, and then spending a lot of time explaining to you why they are plausible, whether this is a person with a pyramid-shaped head or a parachuting tankuki. Villa Incognita, which I picked up for the flight to NY, is no different in this regard, but it sounds a bit like something your great-unkle–an excellent story teller on most days–tosses off to placate you because he’s had a long day and wants to go to bed. The plot is mechanical, there is little to draw you in. It’s a book that is not hard to put down. It seems, especially in comparison to some of Robbins’s other efforts, to lack any sort of continuing tension.

It’s not a bad book. There is no doubt that Robbins can turn a phrase, and you feel after reading this that you’ve just spent a few hours with him over some drinks. But in the long run, the book feels like someone trying to write like Robbins: clown loving seattlite sisters, MIAs waxing religious in Laos, and a circus to make the global ties; throw them in a blender and spin the connections.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted 5/23/2004 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Does it make you miss the Pacific Northwest at all?

  2. Alex
    Posted 5/24/2004 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Not this book in particular. I do miss Seattle, and would definitely return to the PNW to live, but I have to say that it isn’t at the top of my list for “next places to live,” and I am strangely more homesick for Japan than for Seattle. For what it’s worth, my list of “next places” includes: SF Bay area / Santa Cruz, San Diego / OC, Hawaii, NYC, Arizona/New Mexico/Texas.

    I’ve excised foreign spots for now, in part because Jamie’s job will likely keep us in the States for a while, but if those were added, I can definitely see: Australia, Thailand, UK, France, Spain, Holland, Japan, Singapore, and a few other places.

  3. Posted 5/25/2004 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Ah, I love dreaming about other places … topping my list would be the SF/bay area or NYC for the States (I’m not wild about Seattle, actually). Outside the States, well, that’d be a longer list … But I guess since my Next Place is New Hampshire, I’ll bump that to the top of the list!

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