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Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

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Overview

The whooping crane rustlers are girls. Young girls. Cowgirls, as a matter of fact, all “bursting with dimples and hormones”—and the FBI has never seen anything quite like them. Yet their rebellion at the Rubber Rose Ranch is almost overshadowed by the arrival of the legendary Sissy Hankshaw, a white-trash goddess literally born to hitchhike, and the freest female of them all.

Freedom, its prizes and its prices, is a major theme of Tom Robbins’s classic tale of eccentric ...

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Overview

The whooping crane rustlers are girls. Young girls. Cowgirls, as a matter of fact, all “bursting with dimples and hormones”—and the FBI has never seen anything quite like them. Yet their rebellion at the Rubber Rose Ranch is almost overshadowed by the arrival of the legendary Sissy Hankshaw, a white-trash goddess literally born to hitchhike, and the freest female of them all.

Freedom, its prizes and its prices, is a major theme of Tom Robbins’s classic tale of eccentric adventure. As his robust characters attempt to turn the tables on fate, the reader is drawn along on a tragicomic joyride across the badlands of sexuality, wild rivers of language, and the frontiers of the mind.

The outrageous bestseller that stars Sissy Hankshaw--flawlessly beautiful, almost. A small-town girl with big-time dreams and a quirk to match--hitchhiking her way into your heart, your hopes, and your sleeping bag. . . . Follow Sissy's amazing odyssey from Virginia to Manhattan to the Dakota Badlands, where FBI agents, cowgirls and ecstatic whooping cranes explode in a deliciously drawn-out climax.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is  one of those special novels—a piece of working  magic, warm, funny, and san—that you just want to  ride off into the sunset with."–Thomas  Pynchon

"The best fiction, so far,  to come out of the American  counterculture."—Chicago Tribune Book World

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues comes as a magical gift, a brilliant affirmation of private visions and private wishes and their power to transform life and death.” —The Nation

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553349498
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1990
  • Edition description: Bantam trade ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 85,601
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Robbins

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.

Biography

So much mythology swirls around Pacific Northwest novelist Tom Robbins that sorting fact from fiction is a daunting challenge. Born Thomas Eugene Robbins in 1936 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, he was raised from age 11 on in a suburb near Richmond, Virginia. He attended Washington and Lee University but did not graduate. Instead, he quit college and spent a year hitchhiking, settling for a while in New York City.

Robbins enlisted in the Air Force in 1957, just one step ahead of the draft, and served three years in Korea. Upon discharge, he moved back to Virginia to attend art school at Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University), graduating in 1961. During this time he worked as a copy editor for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

According to Robbins, the South's hidebound racism -- perfectly mirrored in the newspaper's policy -- prompted him to move as far away from Richmond as possible "while still remaining in the continental United States." He ended up in Seattle in the early 1960s, enrolled in the University of Washington to pursue his Masters, and went to work for the Seattle Times. If we are to believe the story, it was around this time that he first sampled LSD (not yet an illegal substance). Blown away by the experience, he chucked both grad school and his job at the paper and spent the rest of the decade bouncing between the East and West Coasts -- writing, working as a DJ in alternative radio, and partaking liberally of the countercultural smorgasbord of the day.

Towards the end of the '60s, Robbins began working seriously at his writing, culminating in 1971 with the publication of his first novel, the comic absurdist tale Another Roadside Attraction. A failure in hardcover, it nevertheless sold well as a paperback, prompting publishers to release his next book -- 1976's Even Cowgirls Get the Blues -- in both formats simultaneously. Although he has not been a hit with most mainstream critics, Robbins has achieved rarified cult status with successive generations of 20-somethings who adore his goofy, upbeat satirical fiction. He claims to never read reviews but is pleased to have enjoyed a steady string of bestsellers starting with Still Life with Woodpecker in 1980. In 2005, he produced Wild Ducks Flying Backward, a volume of shorter works, including poems, stories, essays, articles, and reviews.

Rumor has it that Robbins polishes each sentence to perfection before moving on to the next. Whether or not that's true, he does admit to being a slow writer -- and to needing a long period of rest and recuperation (usually involving travel to some exotic place) in between books. All of which explains why his output is surprisingly slender, especially for a writer who inspires such passionate, fanatical devotion!

Good To Know

Here are some fun facts (and perhaps some fun fiction, as well!) about Tom Robbins:

  • An accomplished artist, Robbins is one of only a handful of writers to have cover design built into their book contracts.
  • When Elvis Presley died of an overdose in his bathroom on August 16, 1977, there was rumored to be a copy of Another Roadside Attraction on the floor beside him.
  • While working as a journalist and DJ in Washington state, Robbins attended a 1967 Doors concert in Seattle. He claims that the origins of his unique writing style can be found in that piece.
  • Robbins has enjoyed friendships with a group of widely people, from '60s countercultural icons like Alan Ginsberg and Timothy Leary to mythologist Joseph Campbell (with whom he once traveled to South America.
  • Robbins has appeared in several films, including Made in Heaven, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Breakfast of Champions, and Gus Van Sant's 1993 adaptation of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.
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      1. Hometown:
        LaConner, Washington
      1. Date of Birth:
        July 22, 1936
      2. Place of Birth:
        Blowing Rock, North Carolina

    Read an Excerpt

    Welcome to the Rubber Rose Ranch

    It is the finest outhouse in the Dakotas.  It has to be.

    Spiders, mice, cold drafts, splinters, corncobs, habitual stenches don't make it in this company.  The hands have renovated and decorated the privy themselves.  Foam rubber, hanging flower pots, a couple of prints by Georgia O'Keeffe (her cow skull period), fluffy carpeting, Sheetrock insulation, ashtrays, and incense burner, a fly strip, a photograph of Dale Evans about which there is some controversy.  There is even a radio in the outhouse, although the radio station in the area plays nothing but polkas.

    Of course, the ranch has indoor facilities, flush toilets in regular bathrooms, but they'd been stopped up during the revolution and nobody had ever unstopped them. Plumbing was one thing the girls were poor at.  Nearest Roto-Rooter man was thirty miles.  Weren't any Roto-Rooter women anywhere, as far as they knew.

    Jelly is sitting in the outhouse.  She has been sitting there longer than necessary.  The door is wide open and lets in the sky.  Or, rather, a piece of the sky, for on a summer's day in Dakota the sky is mighty big.  Mighty big and mighty blue, and today there is hardly a cloud.  What looks to be a wisp of a cloud is actually the moon, narrow and pale, like a paring snipped from a snowman's toenail.  The radio is broadcasting "The Silver Dollar Polka."

    What is young Jelly thinking, in such a pensive pose?  Hard to say.  Probably she is thinking about the birds.  No, not those crows that just haiku-ed by, but the birds she and her hands are bamboozling down at the lake.  Those birds give a body something to think about, all right.  But maybe she is thinking about the Chink, wondering what the crazy old coot is up to now, way up yonder on his ridge.  Maybe she is thinking about ranchly finances, puzzling how she's going to make ends meet.  It is even possible that she is pondering something metaphysical, for the Chink has more than once subjected her to philosophical notions; the hit and miss of the cosmic pumpkin.  If that is unlikely, it is still less likely that she is mulling over the international situation—desperate, as usual.  And apparently her mind is not on romance or a particular romantic entity, for though her panties and jeans are at her feet, her fingers drum dryly upon the domes of her knees.  Perhaps Jelly is thinking about what's for supper.

    On the other hand, Bonanza Jellybean, ranch boss, may just be looking things over.  Surveying the spread from the comfort of the privy.  Checking out the corrals, the stables, the bunkhouse, the pump, what's left of the sauna, the ruins of the reducing salon, the willow grove and the cottonwoods, the garden where Dolores teased a rattlesnake on Monday, the pile of hairdryers still rusting among the sunflowers, the chicken coop, the tumbleweed, the peyote wagon, the distant buttes and canyons, the sky full of blue.  Weather's hot, but there's a breeze today and it feels sweet, swimming up her bare thighs.  There is sage smell and rose waft.  There is fly buzz and polka yip.  Way off, horse lips flutter; she hears the goats at pasture and the far, faint sounds of the girls tending their herd.  The bird herd.

    A rooster clears his sinuses.  He's loud but absolutely nothing compared to what those birds can do if the hands don't keep them quiet.  They'd better!

    Still sitting, Jelly focuses her dreamy gaze on the rooster.  "Someday," she says to the empty seat next to her, "if that Sissy Hankshaw ever shows up here again, I'm gonna teach her how to hypnotize a chicken.  Chickens are the easiest creatures on earth to hypnotize.  If you can look a chicken in the eyes for ten seconds, it's yours forever."

    She pulls up her pants, shoulders her rifle and ambles off to relieve the guards at the gate.

    Welcome to the Rubber Rose.  The largest all-girl ranch in the West.

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    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4
    ( 48 )
    Rating Distribution

    5 Star

    (19)

    4 Star

    (18)

    3 Star

    (8)

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted February 26, 2006

      A classic

      Read this book decades ago in college. Reread it again lately and it still holds up. The characters are real and some of the best Robbins has ever created. If you enjoyed his 'Still Life with Woodpecker' or some of Jackson McCrae's books ('Katzenjammer'), the you'll fall for COWGIRLS as well. Really funny material: wry, cynical, humorous, heart-felt, and well done. A must for EVERYONE'S bookshelf!

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted July 16, 2005

      'Ha ha ho ho and hee hee'

      Having just reread ECGTB after about 25 years, I agree with some of its fans and detractors that the narrative does get stuck in gear in several spots that get very pondersome and pedantic. Even so, this is still the classic countercultural novel of the 1970s with a rich fabric of comical characters and zany plot twists. The opening dedication to the amoeba lured me in again. Two giant thumbs way up! To quote the story's hermit sage: 'Ha ha ho ho and hee hee!'

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted May 23, 2012

      Classic. Weirdly sexy. Unique story. Strong heroine. Quirky char

      Classic. Weirdly sexy. Unique story. Strong heroine. Quirky characters that you can't help but love.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted May 30, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

      I had read the book years ago and this time I was slightly disappointed. It didn't hold up over time. I loved the characters Robbins created, but the plot was kind of thin, and it was difficult at times to follow the action, or exactly waht was happening. It was still very funny in places. Overall it was worth a second read, but I don't know if my standards have changed over the years or I'm liking different kinds of books.

      1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 28, 2008

      Fantastic and weird

      I read this book for the first time so many years ago that I'm embarassed to say just how many. But recently I reread it and loved it even more than the first time, if you can believe that! I hear a movie has been made of it, but I haven't seen it. Loved the book though.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 23, 2013

      I don't get it

      Maybe it's because I'm too young to have caught the free love and mind opening counterculture, but this book didn't do much for me. I loved the twisted, manic heights of Frog Pajamas, but this was just not very clever. It was weird, but not funny, and just seemed stuck in a rut.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 2, 2012

      Love this book!

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 30, 2007

      my favorite book in the whole wide world!

      I LOVE this story! It is bizarre and beautiful, with characters totally unlike any others in literature. I've read it numerous times over the last ten years, and it never loses the shine it had the first time around!

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted January 23, 2005

      Hmm

      I gave this book 4 stars for being a hit above other books but for a Tom Robbins novel I was slightly dissapointed. Not my favorite by TR but still a truly unique and fascinating ride.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 3, 2000

      ...And I really like Tom Robbins

      Well, I finished the book. I am a loyal Tom Robbins reader, but this one was tough to get through. If you are OK with excessive repetition then you'll be OK with this book. To me, it just got stuck - the story took on shape, but not a whole lot of meaning. But, if it's the story you seek, read the book and DON'T see the movie.

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews

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