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Fierce Invalids Home F...
 
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Tom Robbins
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Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  18,572 ratings  ·  924 reviews
The fierce invalid in Tom Robbins's seventh novel is a philosophical, hedonistic U.S. operative very loosely inspired by a friend of the author. "Sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll are enormously popular in the CIA," claims Switters. "Not with all the agents in the field, but with the good ones, the brightest and the best." Switters isn't really an invalid, but during his first...more
Published 2000 by Bantam Books
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Tim Darnell
Aug 06, 2007 Tim Darnell rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any Humans; missing links need not apply.
This book is by no small margin my favorite novel of all time.

First off, Switters is the greatest single character to emerge from modern literature pure and simple. Not only is he hilarious and a great role model for any law enforcement employee, but his personal philosophies (not discounting his desire to plow his step-sister,) are intriguing and captivating. "Rather than eschewing his contradictory nature, as is typical Western practice, Switters embraces it. He's a CIA agent who hates the go...more
Leslie Gal
Some people love this shit and find it oh so witty and creative, but to me the perfect phrase to describe this book (and all Tom Robbins) is "verbal masturbation." If you value the simple beauty of good prose, you will feel dirty after ol Robbins spews gratuitous, barely cogent metaphors willy-nilly all over your literary face line after nauseating line. Robbins is clearly getting off on his own cleverness; it's just too bad he didn't stop to think about your needs.
Will C
Probably my favorite Tom Robbins novel, one of the few with a male protagonist (some of his books focus on female leads, and a few have couples, but the narration generally focuses on the woman). Switters, the nymphet-chasing secret agent and self described "acquired taste," finds himself confined to a wheelchair. A shaman's curse (the price of a psychedelic revelation) condemns him to death if his feet ever touch the ground. He starts the novel in love with his underage step sister, working for...more
Sarah
Likely my favorite book of all time. Former CIA agent Switters treks through the Amazon searching for shaman named "The End of Time/ Today IS Tomorrow," accompanied only by his parrot who lives by the motto "Peeple of zee wurl, relax!" I spit every time I hear the name "John Foster Dulles." Ingenious.
Lisa


Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates
Current mood: disappointed

"Could you pull off there? " she immediately asked, pointing ... to a gas station. "I really have to use the bathroom."

"Say toilet, would you darling. I don't believe bathing is one of the services Texaco provides."

"Whatever."

"No, it's not unimportant. Intelligent speech is under pressure in our fair land and needs all the support it can get."

above is my favorite part of this book, which i would NOT recommend to others.

not being a...more
Steve
HEADLINE: I do not care much for John Foster Dulles either.


Tim Robbins makes my smile muscles hurt. The man's work in the form of this novel is completely over the top. The protagonist is Switters, a CIA operative. CIA operatives from Switters's own point of view come in two flavors, cowboys and angels. Switters of course sees himself in the latter category.

The plot is of the wildly improbable sort. It takes Switters from Seattle, to Peru, into a wheelchair, to Central Syria and Damascus, onto...more
Lindsay
i've well acquainted with the pantheon of tom robbins (except for wild ducks flying backward- saving that for a rainy day), but i have to count myself among the many who consider this a favorite of the bunch. well written, fast, and full of shamanic/monastic greatness. i would even say a tour de force if that wasn't the shittiest, most hackneyed phrase in book reviewdom.
E
Feb 03, 2009 E rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The pure of heart
Top 5.
Switters is my hero. An absurd and rollicking good time. If you enjoy philosophy, drugs, booze, sex and laughing...you should be into this.
Rachel Moore
I was told to read this book by a friend who is absolutely nuts over this author. Tom Robbins is obviously a very smart man and has extremely creative stories.

He has massive vocabulary and I found myself looking up words throughout this novel. In the end I was extremely unsatisfied. Tom Robbins tends to ramble for pages upon pages within this book which is like trying to concentrate on listening to someone talking to you on acid.

It can be boring, long and will relate to absolutely nothing in t...more
Mark
This book was listed recently in EW as one of Johnny Dep's favorite. Dep seems the kind of fella that's off the deep end in taste so I thought I would read it and see why he liked it so much.
It is kind if hard to appreciate a protagonist who is a pedophile and who engages in anal sex with a nun. Perhaps this gives us... insight as to Dep's relationship with Roman Polanski!
Robbins uses wonderful flowery, flowing language, however he bleeds this over into his characters speech. Although American's...more
Adam
This is the third novel by Tom Robbins that I have read, and by far the most enjoyable.

Switters, a CIA agent, is about to be sent on assignment in South America. Hearing that, his elderly computer-hacking grandmother in Seattle asks, or rather orders, him to take her aged pet parrot back to the Peruvian jungle so that it could spend its dotage with fellow parrots rather than in a cage. Switters meets a shaman in the jungle. This fellow meets Switters and takes an interest in the parrot's unusual...more
Mat
"It was on the road to Damascus (then already six thousand years old) that the apostle Paul (formerly Saul) suffered an epileptic seizure. Pounded to his knees by the relentless strobe of the sun, an egg-white mousse of spittle sudsing from his baked lips, Paul imagined he heard the big boom-boom voice of God (formerly Yahweh) admonishing him to scorn sensuality, snub women, and subdue nature, instructions that he subsequently incorporated into the foundation of the early Church (what came to be...more
Elizabeth
I'll start off by saying that I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I had read it a couple of years later. My dad recommended the author to me after I finished Cat's Cradle and said "that was crazy." He said "You think Vonnegut is nuts? Try Robbins." Robbins' books should be put in the literary asylum. But this is a really good book, full of nonstop energy and hilarity, but it's definitely adult humor. The main character is a CIA "errand boy" who doesn't like to play by the rules. He pr...more
John
A 2.5

For the first third of this book I alternated thinking it was brilliant and banal. Then it mostly bored me. Switters annoyed me. I kept thinking how aggravating he would be in real life. His pompous shenanigans did not strike me as half as witty as the character (and the author) seemed to think they were. I tired of him.

I also did not understand the author’s choice to mostly tell the story through Switters, but then at times step out and play narrator, even a few times addressing the reade...more
Kevin Rubin
"Too damned vivid!" is Switters' repeated phrase through the whole book.

Can you go wrong with a book in which the main character's claim to fame among his coworkers is knowing the word for female genitalia in over 70 languages?

Switters begins the story as a CIA field agent, until on a mission in South America he and a British traveller meet a shaman who might be real. The shaman curses both of them, but neither really believes it, till the British guy talks Switters into a test of his, and when...more
Robin
Sometimes you find a book at the wrong time in your life, and you think how much you would have liked it if you had read it 10 years ago. This is one of those books for me.

I kept reading anyways, probably because there are enough funny/interesting parts to propel you through the annoying parts.

Someone recommended it to me when I was a college freshman, but I only recently got around to reading it. He told me something along the lines of "you're sex positive, so you would enjoy this sexy romp of...more
Rowland Bismark
Robbins could write his way into the panties of any grammar compulsive, vocabulary obsessed school marm and somehow make it seem as if it were her idea. This book is a romp of words and spuriously decorative suggestion, at once a curious mix of cartoon and spiritual incisive wisdom.

As with anything Robbinesque it requires suspension of belief while simultaneously challenging and championing belief. Tongue in cheek with Robbins requires opening your interpretation of that colloquialism to all par...more
Slavo Ingilizov
I first started reading "Villa Incognito" a couple of years back, but made the mistake of reading the Bulgarian translation and not the original. I didn't like it, and consequently laughed at all my friends who recommended Tom Robbins.

Well, it turns out he's so great. "Fierce Invalids" is proof. He's not great because of twists in the plot, or a narrative which doesn't let you leave the book. Today people reading mediocre mystery and criminal novels have come to expect those, but Tom Robbins shi...more
Caleb
Tom Robbins pays a peculiar type of homage to American ideals and Christian philosophy throughout the hilariously verbose and seriously playful criticism that fill the pages of this adventure. Our story follows the ramblings of a wheel-chaired man named Switters. Ex-CIA, brilliant linguist and, above all else, lover of innocence, Switters is a real to life, heroic non-believer. Rooted in Buddhist sentimental pragmatism, he transcends struggles with his wholesome and psychotic laughter, demonstra...more
Jeanette
Some of Tom Robbins's more recent novels are just too bizarre to enjoy as a whole, but he always makes statements that ring true about certain parts of society. Often he says things no one else has the guts to say. This book was no exception in that regard, although I didn't like the plot or main characters.

"It is tough to say who's a greater thread to the world--an ambitious CEO with a big ad budget, or a crafty cleric with an obsolete Bible verse."

The Bible: "The honey that's dipped from that...more
Spider
though this edition has the same isbn, my book has only 415 pages...

This was a challenging book to read, it took me a long while to get through it. The Switters character was not particularly likable as someone of substance, though I am admittedly disgusted by men leching after young women/girls, he did take his journey & seemed to end up in a good enough spot. And the run on pararagraphs of decriptions had me losing interest on many an occasion. Tom, you are creative, ok, I get it! Now, mo...more
Mary
I am having a hard time with this book. I belong to a book club and two of the ladies said they love Tom Robbins books. Coming off reading Shades of Grey Trilogy (Which I have yet to finish). I was thinking I could go for fun. I don't get it. Switters is a bafoon with a pediophile desire. I am trying to push through for the sake of the book club but keep getting distracted by anything other than this book. It is not a page turner. There is so much detail about every little incident. I am bored t...more
Katie
My least favorite Tom Robbins book.

What he did masterfully in some of his other books (Jitterbug Perfume & Even Cowgirls Get the Blues included)—entwining plot and character development with improbably well-researched, esoteric knowledge and philosophical musings—was clumsily done here. The plot moved haltingly in places, particularly during Switters' time with the nuns, though the ending was a delight and made the stumbling convent bits worth it (at least for a reader with pre-existing Robb...more
Sarah
This was the only book I had to hand to read while I sat by my father's bedside for a few days this year. It was ghastly.

I found this book disturbing and boring. (Strike that - it wasn't interesting enough to be disturbing). As mentioned previously the main protagonist and his male friend are paedophiles, and the author made out this was a bit of a joke. Which it isn't.

He also seemed to love the sound of his own (narrative) voice, and, frankly, was tedious. He put flowery sentences in for the s...more
Jaisette
I always knew that men loved to hear themselves speak.
That they believe themselves to be the final word on all things.

Switters is pompous, lustful, erratic and highly intelligent. This novel takes all kinds of jumps and twist all the while you get caught up in the insane yet coherent ramblings of a man. Conspiracy, humor, sex and religion.

Tom Robbins has issues....good thing he wrote them down. This book is entertainment.

Danger
Mar 27, 2011 Danger rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Danger by: drag queens, Frankenstein, human beings and other assorted fauna
Everytime I don't know what to buy people for Christmas or their birthday, I just get them a copy of this book. I give them two months and then ask what they thought of it. If they say they loved it, we continue to be friends. If they didn't like it, I challenge them to a gladiator-style death match. As you could surmise by the fact that I'm writing this right now, I've never lost a death match. That's how much I love this book.
Megan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah
Closing the covers on Switters for a third time, I'm thinking it's probably the last. Yes, he's vital, and vivid, but he also just seems like the novelist's hero worship of himself. I'd say... This book is for people in their 20s. And men.
Daryl
Tom Robbins is the spokesman of my generation. One Hell of an imagination and the eloquence to communicate it to an audience. If you are a stick-in-the-mud right-wing, NRA card-carrying member--stay away.
Hobie
Wow. What a ride. This guy Switters is something else. So intellectual yet such a guy with an enormous appetite for libation and libido. Read it. You'll love it.
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Thomas Eugene Robbins (born July 22, 1936 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina) is an American author. His novels are complex, often wild stories with strong social undercurrents, a satirical bent, and obscure details. His novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976) was made into a movie in 1993 directed by Gus Van Sant.

More about Tom Robbins...
Still Life with Woodpecker Jitterbug Perfume Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Skinny Legs and All Another Roadside Attraction

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“My faith is whatever makes me feel good about being alive. If your religion doesn't make you feel good to be alive, what the hell is the point of it?” 217 likes
“All depression has its roots in self-pity, and all self-pity is rooted in people taking themselves too seriously."

At the time Switters had disputed her assertion. Even at seventeen, he was aware that depression could have chemical causes.

"The key word here is roots," Maestra had countered. "The roots of depression. For most people, self-awareness and self-pity blossom simultaneously in early adolescence. It's about that time that we start viewing the world as something other than a whoop-de-doo playground, we start to experience personally how threatening it can e, how cruel and unjust. At the very moment when we become, for the first time, both introspective and socially conscientious, we receive the bad news that the world, by and large, doesn't give a rat's ass. Even an old tomato like me can recall how painful, scary, and disillusioning that realization was. So, there's a tendency, then, to slip into rage and self-pity, which if indulged, can fester into bouts of depression."

"Yeah but Maestra - "

"Don't interrupt. Now, unless someone stronger and wiser - a friend, a parent, a novelist, filmmaker, teacher, or musician - can josh us out of it, can elevate us and show us how petty and pompous and monumentally useless it is to take ourselves so seriously, then depression can become a habit, which, in tern, can produce a neurological imprint. Are you with me? Gradually, our brain chemistry becomes conditioned to react to negative stimuli in a particular, predictable way. One thing'll go wrong and it'll automatically switch on its blender and mix us that black cocktail, the ol' doomsday daiquiri, and before we know it, we're soused to the gills from the inside out. Once depression has become electrochemically integrated, it can be extremely difficult to philosophically or psychologically override it; by then it's playing by physical rules, a whole different ball game. That's why Switters my dearest, every time you've shown signs of feeling sorry for yourself, I've played my blues records really loud or read to you from The Horse's Mouth. And that's why when you've exhibited the slightest tendency toward self-importance, I've reminded you that you and me - you and I: excuse me - may be every bit as important as the President or the pope or the biggest prime-time icon in Hollywood, but none of us is much more than a pimple on the ass-end of creation, so let's not get carried away with ourselves. Preventive medicine, boy. It's preventive medicine."

"But what about self-esteem?"

"Heh! Self-esteem is for sissies. Accept that you're a pimple and try to keep a lively sense of humor about it. That way lies grace - and maybe even glory.”
215 likes
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