Imagine that there is a family in which four generations of strong, alluring women have shared a mysterious connection to an outlandish figure from Japanese folklore.
Imagine just those things (don't even try to imagine the love story) and you'll have a foretaste of Tom Robbins's eighth and perhaps most beautifully crafted novel - a work as timeless as myth yet as topical as the latest international threat.
On one level, this is a book about identity, masquerade and disguise - about "the false mustache of the world" - but neither the mists of Laos nor the smog of Bangkok, neither the overcast of Seattle nor the fog of San Francisco, neither the murk of the intelligence community nor the mummery of the circus can obscure the linguistic phosphor that illuminates the pages of Villa Incognito.
©2003 Tom Robbins; (P)2003 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"Here we have weirdness personified, a quirky, outrageous concoction that is a joy to the imagination." (Publishers Weekly)
"It's a fun read." (Booklist)
If you love Tom Robbins, then you will like this book. The narration is fantastic, and the story is compelling. The classic problem is that it is difficult to wrap up so many stories at the end, so he uses an epilogue to finish the book, which was a little bit of a let down. That being said, it has some great characters, storylines and made me laugh out loud.
I am a big Tom Robbins fan and have read almost all of his books. He has a very unconventional sense of humor and a joie de vivre that some people find disconcerting. I did like this book, but I didn't think it was one of his best. The story is complicated and you do have to stick with it at times, as it gets kind of confusing. But that is Mr. Robbins' style: to twist a familiar theme until you begin to see it from the inside out. I have gotten some great insights from his books in the past, but I couldn't get close to any of characters in this novel or their predicaments. Part of the difficulty may be with the reading itself. The reader's attempts at the various accents, especially the asian ones (which sound like something from a Monty Python sketch), were highly stereotypical and difficult to relate to.
Many people would argue that Robbins never focuses very much on plot or story, but I have found his stream of consciousness adventures to be some of the most fun, clever and engrossing books that I have read.
That being said, Villa Incognito was a bit of a dissapointment. This novel follows the same formula as his other books, and it seems that half way through, he got bored with writing another novel about absurdity, gurus, and wahoo and decided to just end it. This really feels like a story that he just got tired of writing and so he tied it together at the end real quick.
Still, it is Robbins, so you'll find some of the most playful use of English and structure around. I still got a happy fizzy feeling reading this, but with the rapid conclusion of developing plots, the reader is left feeling a bit cheated in the end.
If you like Robbins and have read his other work. You will definitely enjoy this, but I would recommend reading his other titles first.
I love Tom Robbins. I had read Villa Incognito years ago and was excited to listen to it. I've enjoyed all the other Robbins books in audio format. This narrator is terrible. His Thai accent and "cowboy" accents are terrible to the point of distraction. Robbins books are naughty and glib and don't take themselves seriously, that's the beauty of his story-telling. They need a subtle touch. Robbins books, as most great stories, need the narrator to become invisible and let the story shine through. This performance was so disappointing.
I've read a lot of Mr. Robbins' books, and this is one Im forcing my way thorough. He can be great, but this one just doesnt grab me enough to enjoy as an audiobook. It loses my attention too often, and I feel like it may be better enjoyed as reading material. The book starts out with the narrator doing these Mr. Magoo accents, and when it persisted, I thought I was going to flip out and chuck my ipod. But they let up, thankfully. Try Jitterbug Perfume.
This entire book is underrated, but the audio reading of the book is even better than the book itself. The reader does a fabulous job, using accents and varying voices for the unique characters. This is truly a must hear! I even named my dog after the main character...
A one word summary: What????
This is definitely a waste of time. Too disjointed. Too weird. It just did not hold my attention for 2 minutes at a time.
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