Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

by Tom Robbins


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Starring Sissy Hanshaw—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 bags...

Featuring Bonanza Jellybean and the smooth-riding cowgirls of Rubber Rose Ranch. Chink, lascivious guru of yams and yang. Julian, Mohawk by birth; asthmatic esthete and husband by disposition. Dr. Robbins, preventive psychiatrist and reality instructor...

Follow Sissy's amazing odyssey from Virginia to chic Manhattan to the Dakota Badlands, where FBI agents, cowgirls, and ecstatic whooping cranes explode in a deliciously drawn-out climax...

"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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781842430248
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/28/2001
Pages: 365
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.87(h) x (d)

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.


LaConner, Washington

Date of Birth:

July 22, 1936

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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Even Cowgirls Get the Blues 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!'
therealangiemccoy More than 1 year ago
Classic. Weirdly sexy. Unique story. Strong heroine. Quirky characters that you can't help but love.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Go4Jugular More than 1 year ago
My first Tom Robbins experience, and a very positive one it was. While there is a mid-70s sensibility to some of the writing and concepts, as long as you don't mind revisiting that era, the story, characters, and concepts therein are by no means dated. The plot is somewhat meandering but, again, once you're in the correct mindset it's nice to just follow along as the action waxes and wanes. What is superlative is Robbins' ability to coin a phrase; nearly every page has some gem, some verbal twist or metaphor that adds immensely to the reader's enjoyment.
meridius on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of my all-time favorites. Dedicated to the amoeba: that inveterately versatile and vagabond single cell hitchhiker, Robbins chronicles the adventures of the audaciously-thumbed Sissy Hankshaw.Like most Robbins books, I'm always reborn a little having read and re-read them.The first couple of hundred pages might seem too obtuse for some, but stick with it!
Crowyhead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Highly, highly influential during my highschool years. There was a girl I had a crush on to whom I would write letters and sign them "Bonanza Jellybean"...
SandiLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love what Tom Robbins does with the English language. It takes me a while to get through his books because I pause to marvel at every second sentence.
ahgonzales on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Very easy read with lots of feminist musings. The narration is interesting and I like the moves between following the story line and the short writing on other subjects. Often times the narrator is directly addressing the reader. There is a lot of movement in the writing, which fits nicely into the hitchhiking theme.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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