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Villa Incognito

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  15,608 Ratings  ·  633 Reviews
Imagine that there are American MIAs who chose to remain missing after the Vietnam War.

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
Audio CD, Library
Published 2003
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jun 16, 2012 J.I. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
This is probably the worst Tom Robbins I've ever read. Which isn't to say that it isn't funny. It is. It is very funny, with lots of excellent lines and clever little observations. The problem is that the characterizations, even for parody, even for humor, are flat and contrived, the philosophy espoused is pedestrian, even for a college freshman (seriously, can't people just get over their realizations that Columbus didn't "discover" the Americas? Is it really so profound that you have been told ...more
Apr 27, 2007 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book came to me because the recommender asked what that funny statue was in my living room. I replied, a tanuki. He looked at me strangely, so I spelled tanuki out for him. Then, much to my surprise, he said I read a book about tanukis and I thought they were made up by the author.

Well, Tom Robbins did not make up the story of the tanuki from scratch, but he did embellish on the Japanese legend. Robbins is one of those rare authors where I stop for a second and think, how the hell did he c
I did it all for Tanuki:
Karly *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*

Things I learned about myself whilst reading Tom Robbins' Villa Incognito

1.) The word scrotum makes my mouth really uncomfortable. It makes me simultaneously want to giggle and vomit, feelings which - before now - I thought were mutually exclusive.

(The word Gonads, however, just makes me giggle!)

2.) Any mention of Thomas Edison always makes me think of the TV show Student Bodies

3.) Bestiality makes me inappropriately snort-chuckle loud enough to be heard
Molly Billygoat
Nov 13, 2015 Molly Billygoat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The beginning of Tom Robbins’ Villa Incognito has all the hallmarks of a comedic fable. For fans of satire, the lovable but lascivious Tanuki – an ancient Japanese badger-like creature with an enormous scrotum and love for women and booze – ensnares the reader immediately. The story to come, however, is much vaster than one might imagine.

Jumping back and forth in time, between countries, and between different characters, the plot thickens and raises many questions. At about the half-way point,
Jun 25, 2007 James rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy Tom Robbins very much, but this book just really fell flat with me. I'd read one or two other Robbins books just before this one, so perhaps it was partly just general Robbins-fatigue, but Villa Incognito really felt like a lazy mishmash of generic Robbins themes and humor. When I read this book most of the time my mind was going "Blah blah beautiful prose about drinking and drugs and sex and wacky characters blah blah." I was really just bored with it. I could see how if this w ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This has been on my Good Reads shelf for a long time with a two-star rating because I didn't care for the plot or the book as a whole. Today I'm adding a star to my rating because I ran across a whole mess of stuff I'd copied from the book. The story's not that great, but Robbins makes some powerful statements about a lot of issues the planet as a whole is facing, and America specifically.

"Why would they fell trees but leave men standing? Trees are a damn sight more useful than people, and every
Jan 01, 2009 Elona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i have not encountered Robbins' skill with words in a long long time.


some examples of cunning linguism :P.

"if coitus interruptus was a country, then Tanuki's tail would have been its flag."

not many hours later, after the moon had set, when the night was so black not even Michael Jackson's cosmetic surgeon could have lightened its hue."

"Eventually, they started transposing their hunting fantasies onto cave walls in the forms of pictures, fir
Mason Wiebe
His newest book (I think) takes place mostly in SE Asia (Laos and Thailand) and is centered around 3 former Vietnam POWs and the international opium ring they run. It is, however, written by Tom Robbins so there is plenty of sarcasm, beastiality, spiritual dialogue, biblical badmouthing, circuses and tanukis. As always he is fun to read, but this wasn’t as good as Skinny Legs and All. I did enjoy it though and would recommend it.
Good Quotes:

“Trees are a damn sight more useful than people, and ev
Feb 11, 2014 Mat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
By standard book standards, I would say that this is a four-star book, easily.
But by Tom Robbins' standards, and he has set the bar for himself rather high I must say, this is just a mediocre three-star book.

It starts off brilliantly and as someone living in Japan who not only runs into pictures of Tanuki, sees them quite often scampering across the highway when driving but also has a statue of one right out front my door, this was right up my alley and something which immediately piqued my int
Giddy Girlie
With a heavy heart, I submit to you my least favorite Tom Robbins book. To be fair, it was an interesting story but it just lacked... something. This book is noticeably shorter than any of his other works, probably by about 150 pages, which says something. It felt like this was maybe the outline or an idea that he had and was waiting to dust it with Tom Robbins magic and then... never got around to it. Even the ending felt like "meh, my fingers are tired from typing so I'm just going to say 'the ...more
A good Robbins book, but didn't love it quite as much as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues or Still Life with Woodpecker. Definitely not the place to start for anyone who's not already familiar with his work, as I found it a little more manic and hard to follow than the others of his I've read. Robbins to me always feels like a ride in a speeding car where the inside has a million video screens and you're trying to follow everything on the screens and everything that blurs by the windows. There are a ...more
Nate Q
Oct 29, 2010 Nate Q rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popcorn, yeeeeeesh, raunch
As much as I wanted to give this one 2 stars because of Fierce Invalids, I'm starting to reconsider my opinion of Robbins. So far it's 2 duds and one brilliant novel: Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates
He has great descriptions, but very obviously wanted this to be the style of Vonnegut/Hunter S./Pratchett meets the characters/plot of Catch 22/Confederacy of Dunces/Infinite Jest. I'm a little underwhelmed at how he failed to do any of it at all, aside from a few humorous descriptions, i.e. th
Twerking To Beethoven
Now this was a *REALLY* weird read.

Should someone ask me about the book and what it's all about, I wouldn't know what to answer. No clue whatsoever, honest. Aye, I'm that thick.

It was like "Infinite Jest", only way shorter and funnier. And that's why I finished "Villa Incognito": even though I lost the plot along the way because of the constant wild and weird fuckery, I really loved the style. Some bits were genuinely entertaining and funny. I mean, the first four lines about Tanuki's gigantic
Jun 17, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I liked this one in pieces more than I liked the whole. It struck me as less bizarre than some Robbins work, but still strange enough. I particularly liked the myth sections. However, at some point it just felt like it got done without finishing going anywhere. It managed to wrap up well enough, but I wanted something more. I think that was the difference between being one of the good Robbins books and one of the great Robbins books.
Daniel Patrick
Jan 05, 2013 Daniel Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got this book for 99p when I was working at Waterstones. Absolute bargain. A real hidden gem of a writer. From what I gather, he just starts writing without any idea of where he's going and then sits back and sees where the story takes him. This one takes him to some odd places, but they're all worth going to. Highly recommended.
Ένας τρελλός τρελλός Ρόμπινς...
Apr 18, 2017 Dymbula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tuhle potrhlou literatur mám bytostně rád.
Nick Iuppa
Jan 26, 2015 Nick Iuppa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 01, 2010 Parksy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Typical Tom Robbins - always a joy to read. Very different characters and plot devices.


From Publishers Weekly
Donald Barthelme once said, "Those who never attempt the absurd never achieve the impossible." Robbins (Still Life with Woodpecker; Jitterbug Perfume; etc.) has made a career of attempting and achieving both, and in this, his eighth novel, he pulls it off again. Here we have weirdness personified, a quirky, outrageous concoction that is a joy to the imagination. The n
Mike Kleine
Feb 05, 2017 Mike Kleine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first Tom Robbins.

I don't really want to talk about the story. Everyone else has already done that. Why not focus on what you actually want to know...(?)

The book is not difficult to follow, as some reviews claim. True, Mr. Robbins (needlessly?) uses, I dunno, bigger and more interesting words in certain instances. And you know he did not need to use that word (or words) but dammit he's a writer and the writer can do whatever the writer wants!

Overall, pretty good. A little more frenetic than I
Apr 28, 2012 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my first experience reading Tom Robbins and undoubtedly I have found a new favourite author to add to the collection. I have never read anything quite so imaginative, thought provoking and hilarious in equal measures. Robbins' writing style is so unlike anything else I have read that I can't begin to describe it justly but it is simply inspiring - the closest I could come would be 'stream of conciousness yet with a penchant for metaphor and outrageousness'.

The storyline is surprisingly
Nov 04, 2013 TinHouseBooks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-we-love
Holly Laycock (Tin House Marketing Intern): I started Villa Incognito by Tom Robbins after I finished In Cold Blood, and it is just the break from reality that I needed. Tom Robbins’ whimsical world of tanukis and American MIAs at times leaves me scratching my head, enough that I sometimes am not in the mood for it. However, it is the perfect book to get me out of my head, away from my troubles, and when I need a good belly laugh, I read the scattered poetry throughout:

“Meet me in Cognito, baby
Apr 28, 2008 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it, of course. The first line:

"It has been reported that Tanuki fell from the sky using his scrotum as a parachute."

Ha. Nice story involving elements of Japan, Thailand, Laos, opium, heroin, beastiality, myth, gods/goddesses, the circus, animism, and much more. It can get a little annoying when Robbins' characters talk like him, but because that's just Tom Robbins, I forgive him.

"...the soul is not an overweight nightclub singer having an unhappy love affair in Detroit. The soul doesn't h
Dan Martin
There was absolutely no story in this book. It's READY for a story, the intro story is awesome, but then it stops and it introduces the modern characters and sets the scene. The scene, a character has been caught transporting opium, from there you get a background story of all the characters, their sex lives, hobbies, education, everything. You get the full backstory of a circus, a town, everything. Then, within the last 15 or so pages, each character does one thing. One guy eats a sandwich and ...more
Петър Стойков
Още една книга, която е трябвало да прочета по-рано, за да ми хареса.

Може би във въздухарско-интелектуалния ми период (докато бях студент примерно) Вила Инкогнито щеше да ме впечатли, самоцелните философски монолози на героите да ме карат да се замислям над същността и смисъла им и може би даже да мечтая за лежерното битие там, наситено само с отвлечени псевдо мисловни дебати.

За съжаление обаче, в момента съм доста по-практически настроен и историята за трима небръснати наркомани, които се имат
I am left with the same feeling I get whenever I read one of TR's books- I'm kind of confused. Some aspects and passages are among the best anywhere. But much of this makes no sense. I guess maybe it isn't supposed to, or that I'm missing the boat. Possible...

In this story I was especially left behind by the flower seed in the girl's mouth. Huh? What is that supposed to be?

I enjoyed the story of the animal that is a central character and symbol, the tanuki (a Japanese racoon, pretty much).

J. Ellyne
Dec 15, 2012 J. Ellyne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How is this novel classified wrt genre? I believe it's a Fantasy but, like many good Fantasies you will find it in the mainstream literature section of bookstores, along with Stephen King and other great authors. I wish I could write with half the skill of Tom Robbins. He is retired from writing now but it always took him a long time to write a short book. That's because he was soooo careful about the way he turned each phrase and how he used each word. I can read his novels as writing lessons f ...more
Tominda Adkins
Jul 11, 2014 Tominda Adkins rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition


That's all I really got for this one. Robbins is so hit or miss for me. Two of his books are among my all-time most cherished, a few others I've really enjoyed, and another few . . . are not a good fit for me. Also, dude, could you maybe write at least one book that doesn't involve some gnarly, pompous philosopher seducing a Pretty Young Thing half his age and showing her the ways of the big wild world? That gets a little insulting. As does the unfailing appearance of the pretty protag who cu
Feb 08, 2009 Karen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think there must be a rule that Robbins should ny be enjoyed in those crazy college days. His rambling, way out there blizzard stories and social satire is lst on the aged. I loved his books in college..devoured them, lost him around half asleep in frog pajamas..and didnt even try reading invalids. I picked this up because of my Bound Together good reads group...we had to pick a book on our TBR shelf that has been there the longest....I just never thought it would sit there and be such a did.. ...more
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what is the significance of the chrysanthemum seed??? 5 123 Aug 19, 2015 04:26PM  
Should you read? 8 51 Apr 06, 2013 02:14AM  
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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...

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“It doesn't matter how sensitive you are or how damn smart and educated you are, if you're not both at the same time, if your heart and your brain aren't connected, aren't working together harmoniously, well, you're just hopping through life on one leg. You may think you're walking, you may think you're running a damn marathon, but you're only on a hop trip. The connections gotta be maintained.” 143 likes
“Time passed. Art came off the walls and became rituals. Ritual became religion. Religion spawned science. Science led to big business. And big business, if it continues on its present, mindless trajectory, could land those lucky enough to survive its ultimate legacy back into caves again.” 33 likes
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