This novel is about a girl named Amanda, who is a gypsy clairvoyant, her husband John Paul Ziller who is a modern day Tarazan (not exactly modern day, since this was written in 1971, but you know what I mean), Plucky Purcell, a butt-kicking, dope selling, horndog who pretty much uncovers the Catholic church’s biggest secret, and Marx Marvelous, a checkered suit wearing scientist looking for answers. Also included: Flower Children in abundance, a handful of monks, some law enforcement agents, a pet baboon, and Amanda’s son Thor. Oh, and the Pope.
Basically Amanda and Ziller open a roadside zoo/hot dog and juice shop where the only attractions are: a display of “endangered” garter snakes, an extinct tsetse fly encased in amber, and a flea circus (complete with chariot races and re-enactments of Swan Lake). Their buddy Plucky gets all wrapped up, quite on accident, with basically the Catholic Mob (aka some bad ass monks that do all the Vatican’s dirty work), and uncovers what the Catholic church has been trying to keep covered up for centuries in the catacombs beneath the Vatican.
This is the second Tom Robbins book I have read, the first being Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas – which I liked for the most part. This one, not so much. Now, I am to understand that this is his first book. That almost makes it better. I can almost forgive him for how choppy and slow the book seemed. The first half trudged on and on and on. Da-dum-da-dum. Then, I sit down to read the second half and ZOOM. Done. Hooray!
Would I read this again? No thank you. Did I end up enjoying it? Yes. Sorta. Robbins has a way of creating characters that will stick with you long after you have put the book down. He has this nearly poetic way of creating sentences, although sometimes they take up HALF THE PAGE. Yes, one sentence taking up nearly an entire page. Makes me almost have a conniption. He is a good author, I will give him that. And this is definitely not the last book I will read from him, but I am definitely not going to read another book of his directly after this one – for my own sanity.
Anyway, on to reading!