Reviewed by Renée Bosman, Government Information Librarian
A CIA agent, a shaman, and a defrocked nun. Sound like another joke of the "guy walked into a bar" variety? These are some of the characters who populate this Tom Robbins tale that explores everything from religion, miracles, and taboos to sex, drugs, and Broadway show tunes. The novel follows Switters, a hedonistic, renegade CIA operative, from an unusual errand in Peru to Seattle to Syria to the Vatican. Along the way, he is cursed by a shaman, tries to woo his sixteen-year-old stepsister, and falls in with a convent of desert nuns who harbor a secret document of world-changing magnitude. Sound like a good time? This kooky plot is a perfect vehicle for Robbins's trademark finesse of the English language. His similes would make any English teacher swoon: "Overhead, the lemons swung like papier-mâché stars in a cheesy planetarium." After reading his prose, you'll see why Robbins was named by Writer's Digest as one of the 100 best writers of the 20th century.
Want to read more Tom Robbins? Check out Another Roadside Attraction.