Help me find authors like Tom Robbins
June 20, 2007 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Help me find novelists that are similar to Tom Robbins.

Last summer, I read Even Cowgirls Get The Blues and I've just finished Jitterbug Perfume. I've loved both, and I'd like to find some other authors with a similar flavour, peculiar humour, passion, and intelligence.

Any suggestions?
posted by sunimplodes to Writing & Language (24 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Christopher Moore?
posted by drezdn at 9:45 AM on June 20, 2007

T.C. Boyle. To a lesser extent, maybe Salman Rushdie.
posted by saladin at 9:47 AM on June 20, 2007

You would probably like Jeanette Winterson. I'd start with "Sexing the Cherry" or "Gut Symmetries".
posted by hermitosis at 9:49 AM on June 20, 2007

IMO, Robbins took a downward turn after those novels, but other people's mpressions may vary. I'm going to trot out my old tired suggestions which I really do think are good for people who like Robbins.

Richard Brautigan -- wrote poetry and fiction in a slightly wacky whimsical form and also greatly enjoyed the big-titted women, as did Robbins. My favorite book is called The Abortion but he has some collections of short fiction that are great as well, my favorite is The Revenge of the Lawn.

Donald Barthelme -- maybe an upscale version of Robbins, a little less farting a little more literature references you may not get. Great short stories, his longer fiction is not as truly amazing. I have a tiny fan page for him at that link with links to some stories online. He's easy to find in libraries.

John Crowley -- if you get into the more fantastica elements of Robbins, you might like John Crowley. His book Little Big is a great era-spanning family story with a few supernatural twists. Well written and emotional without being smarmy or lame. His other great book Aegypt is a little more metaphysical.

Angela Carter -- her tales are weird ad sometimes dark and a little creepy but they have the same element of oddness and odd people that you see in a lot of Robbins' work. I recommend the Infernal Desire Machine of Dr. Hoffman and possibly Nights at the Circus.
posted by jessamyn at 9:53 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Italo Calvino? Nicholson Baker? Mark Leyner?
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 10:03 AM on June 20, 2007

Strongly seconding Christopher Moore.
posted by Roach at 10:05 AM on June 20, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut

Somebody had to say it.
posted by king walnut at 10:12 AM on June 20, 2007

Louise Erdrich is different in many ways, but she's smart, and strange, and funny. I'm about 3/4 through Last Report on the Miracles at Little No-Horse right now. I like it a lot.

Haruki Murakami is nice too. Dreamier and less palpable than Robbins, but also smart and strange. Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World is one hell of a title, and an excellent book as well.

If you want some weird, funny, short Brautigan, try to find The Hawkline Monster. And good luck with that.


You've read the rest of Robbins, right? Skinny Legs and All, Still Life with Woodpecker, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates are all good. Just avoid Villa Incognita. Scrota alone do not make a book.
posted by fidelity at 10:38 AM on June 20, 2007

Maybe Peter Carey, Louis Urrea, Isabel Allende?
posted by rmless at 10:39 AM on June 20, 2007

And if you like science fiction, check out the Dick.
posted by fidelity at 10:42 AM on June 20, 2007

Christopher Moore. yup

Matt Ruff's books Fool on the Hill (esp if you are close to university age) and Sewer Gas and Electric

John Irving is in the same category in my mind, but maybe because I was reading them at the same time of life

Depending how you feel about the genres, possibly Terry Pratchett (comedy fantasy books); Neal Stephenson (harder-edged sci-fi set in alternate versions of our own world -- ie, no robots and spaceships).
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:52 AM on June 20, 2007

I like Boyle, Muakami and Carey a lot, but I would never think they were 'like' Robbins. Robbins is the smart ass I aspire to be.
Christopher Moore is just too silly for me, but I did like Fluke.

Peculiar humor- John Dufresne
posted by MtDewd at 10:53 AM on June 20, 2007

Tom Robbins is a god among men to me. Don't forget his first novel Another Roadside Attraction.

I second John Irving and Kurt Vonnegut.

I would also highly recommend John Nichols' "New Mexico Trilogy": The Milagro Beanfield War, The Magic Journey, and The Nirvana Blues.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:22 AM on June 20, 2007

Mark Leyner, perhaps?
posted by cog_nate at 11:27 AM on June 20, 2007

Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm certainly interested in Haruki Murakami, Christopher Moore, and Jeanette Winterson, they all sound pretty great from the googling i've done.

I should have mentioned Vonnegut, I have read my share of his stuff and it's obviously pretty great. And as for Robbins' other books, I've not read any others yet, and while I intend to, I want to read something by a different author in the meanwhile, for a slight change of pace, even if it's something in the same vein.
posted by sunimplodes at 11:38 AM on June 20, 2007

David Foster Wallace is like Tom Robbins with much more talent and much less humor.
posted by callmejay at 11:42 AM on June 20, 2007

I'm halfway through Sewer Gas and Electric (which I think maybe I picked up after LobsterMitten recommended it in another thread, just like she did above?), and it reminds me more of Robbins than anything else. Funniest, weirdest thing I've read since Still Life with Woodpecker.
posted by gleuschk at 11:57 AM on June 20, 2007

Just avoid Villa Incognita. Scrota alone do not make a book.

That's my favorite one, personally.

David Foster Wallace is like Tom Robbins with much more talent and much less humor.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 1:07 PM on June 20, 2007

Mark Leyner is like Tom Robbins with a noseful of cocaine.
Et Tu, Babe is one of the funniest damn things I've ever read.
posted by bink at 1:24 PM on June 20, 2007

I hate reading. I hate books.

I love Tom Robbins. I loved Stone Junction by Jim Dodge.

My readin' friends pressured me in to it.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:40 PM on June 20, 2007

There's so many different components to Robbin's style; the inventive and playful prose, the humor, the sex, and the feminism and hippy zen politics. I can't think of anybody else who has it all, but I'm hoping this thread will help feed my library addiction.

I actually already had a Christopher Moore book checked out, and I just started it quite excitedly.

Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys has the humor, and the creativity with language. He uses words you already know in ways you've never imagined in richly descriptive, perfect sentences. He's most well known for writing Sandman but I can't say that I recommend Sandman for being much like Tom Robbins.

I'm sounding like a teenage girl by mentioning Francesca Lia Block and Sandman in the same post, but her wildly popular Weetzie Bat books shares his love for fairytales and legends, and shedding rules of reality in favor of having fun. Funny, as well, but not as clever.

Isaac Adamson's Billy Chaka series of hilarious mysteries set in Japan are not high literature, I admit. He had never been to Japan when he wrote the first book, and he had the unfortunate luck of being on the first wave of a media assault of "Japan is totally wacky!" humor.

Robbins' characters live larger-than life adventures in worlds populated with iconic, eccentric characters; the Countess, for example, or End of Time, the shaman who cursed Switter in Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates. The Toyko Suckerpunch books take place in another universe; where the gods and monsters of both Asian cinema and film noir PI films rule over everyday the life. The mild-mannered journalist kicks ass all over the seedy backalleys of Japan in order to get the story and get out with his life.

They're fast, enjoyable reads, and addictive. As a bonus, the first three books boast colorful, well designed covers. Also, Tobey Maguire is tapped to play Billy Chaka in the movie. Hell yes I'd watch Spiderman in my favorite mystery series of all time.
posted by Juliet Banana at 4:47 PM on June 20, 2007

Have you read Still Life With Woodpecker by Robbins? That was my favorite. I didn't manage to get through Skinny Legs & All, Villa Incognita, and his short story collection. Everything else by his was great so keep reading that.

I would not suggest Christopher Moore; he is not as clever as Robbins; reading his novels reminded me of reading mediocre chick-lit.

Italo Calvino might match Robbins' more than others but is a bit more heavy and difficult to read. I second Richard Brautigan though I prefer his poetry to his fiction. I also second Haruki Murakami. My favorite of his is South of the Border, West of the Sun.

Also, for lighter stuff (if you like fantasy) go for Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 5:36 PM on June 20, 2007

gleuschk, that's so pleasing to hear - I hope you're liking it.

Yeah, Christopher Moore isn't quite there. But he's trying; it's very much the kind of stuff he's aiming to write.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:37 PM on June 20, 2007

(Took me a few days to find this list under some stuff on my desk.) For what it's worth, it's a list of TR's favorite authors that I found somewhere offline. I jotted down the list, but not the name of the publication.

Jim Harrison
Thomas Pynchon
Louise Erdrich
Tibor Fischer
Tom McGuane
Manil Suri
Gunter Grass
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
posted by booth at 7:11 AM on June 23, 2007

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