Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

-Tom Robbins’ latest novel has all the ingredients readers have come to expect from his earlier fiction. HALF ASLEEP IN FROG PAJAMAS comments on contemporary life in the United States through characters who are slightly unmoored from it, and who seem to be traveling on some other astral plane. The author, in his lively lyrical style, comments on both the characters and their worlds with almost nonstop slapstick and verbal humor.

Much of the novel takes place on the wet night streets of Seattle, as Gwen Mati searches for her friend Q-Jo and her boyfriend’s pet monkey, both of which have disappeared. In her distress, Gwen turns to Larry Diamond, a burned out stocktrader turned guru who has just returned from Timbuktu (the legendary city in western Africa) and is living under a bowling alley—and suffering from cancer of the rectum. The novel is, on one level, a frantic chase sequence, as Gwen searches for characters and for help, and rapidly becomes involved with the charismatic Diamond.

In addition to a decided talkiness, Robbins’ novel suffers from the problem of character development, but readers have never followed Robbins for his consistency of his verisimilitude. What one gets from a Robbins novel is a psychedelic linguistic rush, and, like Belford’s monkey, the language in HALF ASLEEP IN FROG PAJAMAS sometimes gets loose and runs wild, in word play, poetic imagery, and colorful motifs. No description is ever straight in Robbins,...

(The entire section is 404 words.)