Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

By Tom Robbins

50 ratings - 3.77* vote

Sissy Hankshaw, dotée de deux pouces immenses, devient la plus grande auto-stoppeuse des Etats-Unis. Elle quitte ainsi Richmond pour partir à la découverte de nouveaux horizons, multipliant les rencontres étonnantes.--[Memento].

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Book details

Paperback, 366 pages
October 11th 2001 by No Exit Press

(first published April 1976)

Original Title
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
1842430246 (ISBN13: 9781842430248)
Edition Language

Community Reviews

emily cress

Tim Robbins is an ASS. He is a creative literary genius and he throws it in your face all throughout this book. You will walk away from this novel not only because it is gross, (or because you have pieces of Tim Robbin's genius on your face), but also because you wont be able to figure out why someone so apparently gifted would write about this trivial crap. It will stump you for days, and on the fifth day you will realize that TR is just what he appears to be...a gifted and obscenely talented ASS. The juxtaposition of graphic gross-yam pudding-while-balling with-old-chinese-men-sex and the brilliant and enlightened way in which TR philosophizes is maddening. Its worth reading- its entertaining at least. The basic plot is bullshit...buuuuut read between the lines. Snort between the lines if you need to. Its the only way to "get it." Of course, if you really love goats and metaphors about dirty greek deities and non-stop phallic references and explicit but pseudo-lesbianism, you will not need to preform the aformentioned snorting. Actually, all you need to do is read some Thoreau and then visit your local "adult" bookstore. You will get the same effect. If however, the book begins to bug you and you cant figure out why and yet you cannot put it down......snort.


You know that road trip you've always wanted to take? (Maybe you've taken it already and if so, I am jealous of you.) You know that road trip you're always planning, the one where you drive a beat-up, gorgeous, car full of books and old clothes, and mix tapes and takeout containers and random souveneirs of americana, through america, maybe by yourself or maybe with one or a few of the people you love most in the world? And you take polaroids of yourself and your wear ripped up jeans and drive barefoot and wear big hunter s. style shades and hang one foot out the window sometimes and sometimes when traffic is bad you park the car by the side of the road and turn the music up real loud and dance until the traffic dies down and find beautiful, hidden places that you can't get to by plane or bus or chartered tour, those places in america (you know they're there) accessible only by Really Awesome Roadtrip? And you stay up driving all night and pointing out stars through the windshield and sometimes you have long conversations where you get honest and earthy and grounded and dangerous in a way you can't get except in a car, on a road trip, somewhere halfway into America, and sometimes you have sex in the car, late at night in parking lots or in the afternoon with summer making the leather seats sticky and making car-smell and body-smell the same thing and afterwards you go the a dairy queen by the side of the road and buy milkshakes and drink them giggling like kids getting away with something? And you drive over mountains that you think you maybe won't ever find your way out of and through states like Wyoming where there's nothing but the road and the sky and you feel so gloriously small that you completely forget what you look like? And you meet gorgeous, prophetic, fictive strangers and have incredibly intense experiences with them and feel like you're in a movie and novel and a rock song and love them perfectly because you know you won't ever see them again? And get, finally, to the other side of the country, tired and sore and stained and achy and grouchy and just totally, totally transcendent, and feel that you understand yourself in a way you always wanted to understand yourself, but never knew how to get to before?

This book is like that road trip.

[Significantly cheaper, too.]

Robert Page

Bah. Many people won't find this review helpful. I do care about that, but not enough to change my review, because I feel it encompasses my feelings for this book quite fully. Here it is:

I had to choose between continuing to read ECGTB or staring at the back of the airplane seat in front of me.

I chose the back of the seat.


I'd read a section, and think to myself "This is shit!" and put it down to stare at the seat in front of me. Then I would think to myself "Come on. You're on a plane, and you have a book to read--a book by a renowned author. Just read the damn thing!"

But I couldn't!

So I would stare at the seatback for awhile, then pick up the book again and try to read it. It didn't work. So I would put the book down again and stare.

Rinse and repeat. Ugh!

I don't hate this book, but I found it to be self-indulgent drivel. I couldn't finish it, and I can't remember the last book I could say that about.


I found the first two thirds of the book to be engaging, after that I felt like I was reading the term paper of an intro to philosophy student.

Also, even if the first two thirds were engaging, I was often uncomfortable, and not uncomfortable in that "hey, I'm stretching my thoughts beyond their normal boundaries" kind of uncomfortable, just the regular kind of uncomfortable.

Take for example the legend of Sissy's earliest hitchhiking endeavors. Reading about a young girl being molested by strangers while hitchikining would probably make me uncomfortable to some extent any time, but, the subject matter could be explored in a worthwhile manner. Here it was put forth as part of the girl's tittilating sexual awakening.

Repeatedly reading this male fantasy of a woman's sexuality grossed me out.

The women in this book are uber-objectified and fetishized.

So, I was alternately grossed out and bored.

I imagine I'll have to read something else of Tom Robbins' though to see if it's his style that I don't like, or if it was just this particular book.


Lost a star as one of the morals of the story is "Lesbians, deep down, need dicking." I'm not going to get mad at a lesbian-identified person who falls in love with or wants to have sex with cis men, but Robbins goes on to explain that this is literally what lesbians, lovely and sweet and cute as their affairs are, need. Boo.


Okay so overall I did like this book, but I am not giving it more then these two stars. You know why? Because I have a problem with a man that writes about lesbians who then interjects himself sexually into the story at the end and has the lesbians hook up with men. Fuck you Tom Robbins! You took a giant shit in the middle of perfectly good and delicious pie. You ruined it. Otherwise the story would have been awesome. I felt so cheated at the end. Another reason I don't like you is because back in the 70's you tried to pick up on my friends Mom in a bar and when she politely refused you told her you were looking for a woman with bigger tits anyway. A true story that really paints a picture of your true personality mysognist and sexist followed by asshole are the first few terms that come to mind when I think about that. I am really happy I bought my copy of your book used and urge anyone who does want to read this to do the same.


Now listen, I loved "Jitterbug Perfume". I love Tom Robbins' twisted sense of humour, I love his philosophical meanderings and smatterings of bizarre facts, and I fully expected to love this book. However, "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" made me want to spit nails.

Why? Because Mr. Robbins pretends he is writing a treatise on female rights, starring lesbians and cowgirls and a hitchhiking philosopheress with a strange but wonderful disfigurement who all resist 1970s society's inclination to turn them into homemakers. Cool.

But but BUT! All of these females are: stunningly pinup beautiful, young, small-waisted, voluptuously curvy, have no personality of their own (they all seem to speak with Robbins' voice, not counting the occasional "howdy podner"), and he can't seem to keep himself from writing about their "cute little ankles", their "adorable turned up noses", their "incredibly short skirts", their puffy "sucker hose" mouths, and their delectable "Fredericks of Hollywood panties". He delights in describing their mud wrestling, their pulling down their panties and going to the bathroom, their kissing and touching each other, their sexual concourse with every human creature they encounter. AND THEN! HE WRITES HIMSELF AS A CHARACTER AND HAS SEX WITH THEM!!!!

As the story unfolds, you begin to realise that his delight in Sissy's deformity is less heroic and more fetishistic. His appearance in the novel as the clever rebel psychiatrist is less Auster-ian genius and more sickening self-aggrandisement. The cowgirls of Rubber Rose Ranch are not feminist lesbians. They are Tom Robbins' porno fantasy lesbians, and for all of his philosophical ramblings, he humiliates and debases them, and worst of all -- it's all in the name of "respect for women".


I did, however, like the twisted sense of humour, the philosophical meanderings, and the smattering of bizarre facts -- so two stars from me.


"AMAZING! This book came into my life by chance and I am glad it did. A hilarious and engaging read that also questioned and affirmed pieces of my own life in powerful ways. Apparently this book has been around for a generation, but I think it needs a rebirth - it is still relevant, maybe even moreso now that the "mainstream" has changed.

Some specific points from the novel that I love:
Why are white people always looking for spirituality in other cultures? We have a full, real, historically grounded tradition that we actively have thrown away and ignored. Stop going to Buddhist temples and sweat lodges - just look back a few generations of grandmothers!
Women living in community - oh how close to home some of this landed. All of the conflicts, controversies and dilemmas of what it means to be a woman, especially in the absence of men. Is it a question we even want to answer? Meaning, to answer that question definitively would mean some separation, isolation, and denial that seems untruthful to me. Seriously though, there are some great kick-ass role model characters that put the options out there.
Relationships on the move - the whole idea of wandering, creating real relationships, and also staying in the present and allowing life to flow as it comes. Our parents "got it" but I think more young people could internalize this message. On the other hand, see my notes on "Into the Wild" and note the difference between staying in the moment with your relationships, and being so self-centered that you don't allow yourself to trust or care for others and thus HAVE to wander...

Anyways, classic Tom Robbins style keeps this an interesting read, with a fair amount of hilarious static to sort through before getting messages. But also interesting and hilarious in a way that is ultimately affirming and inspiring no matter what crazy situation you find yourself in. Read this to get/keep perspective on yourself and remember to laugh!


I hated this book and would give it half a star if I could.

Let me be clear- he is a good writer and knows his way around the words BUT the book reads like this: "I celebrate randomness... Random, random, in your face moralizing, random.... Ah ha, you think I've taken it too far, well, sucks for you because I'm going to take it further. In fact, if you don't enjoy this next tangent it's because you are not as enlightened and intelligent as I am! Random, random, in your face moralizing, random...." Having well written words doesn't excuse these faults for me.

The book was also a huge disappointment for me since I saw the movie and loved it. The movie, as I remembered it, was mostly a sweet love story between Sissy & Jellybean. The book is even less gay than Katy Perry. For all the lady-loving which the author clearly thinks is hot, he states definitively that women can't be complete without men in the moral wrap-up. And vice versa, but since he doesn't indulge in any man-on-man experimentation, the book specifically dismisses lesbianism. Tthe female characters are encouraged to seek some hot action, intimidate conversation, and care-taking from each other as long as it doesn't interfere with some dirty, casual sex with a dick- an idea as "freeing" and "fair" as the straight man looking to outsource the cuddling & emotional part of his hetero relationship. I think the conservatives who are afraid of something they can't understand are doing us less of a disservice than people who trivialize same sex relationships in this way. .

I realize this book was written in a different time wherein the author might have seen this as progressive rather than selfish and dismissive- but in real time, all I got out of this book was aggravation and disappointment (which is why it took me over 2 years to finish it even though I finish pretty much every book I start)

Carol Storm

I read Tom Robbins' EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES as a teenager. I loved every word. It was sexy, funny, and full of glamorous scenery and beautiful writing.

But when I read the reviews on Goodreads, I cannot believe there are actually people who find it ugly and offensive. Why? Because it isn't a realistic look at the gay lifestyle as it's "supposed" to be lived? Anyone over 12 who reads the book will know it has NOTHING TO DO with "real" lesbians, any more than STAR WARS is a documentary about the daily lives of people working at NASA. The book was obviously -- and I do mean OBVIOUSLY -- written by a heterosexual male who loves the IDEA of lesbians (in the nude, all the time)but has never really met one.

So like, why is that a problem? When you read a Regency romance, you don't get angry because dukes and duchesses were not having fabulous sex day and night in real life like they are in a good Regency romance. No one expects a "romance author" to describe the "typical" experience of Regency rakes, or Vikings, or cowboys. So why is Tom Robbins being crucified because he gets a little harmless pleasure out of imagining sex between two beautiful young women? If he were a woman writing M/M romance novels on a trendy website like Loose ID or Ellora's Cave (or Blushing Books) no-one would even question his right to express his fantasies.

It's interesting that the same political correctness types who want to lynch Robbins for not making his lesbians dull, sour, man-hating battle axes turn a blind eye some of the other characters in the book.

Take, for example, "The Chink." I need hardly say how peculiar it is that Robbins seems to find it cute to call his Oriental character by this offensive slur. Why doesn't he call "The Countess" something similar, like "The Queer" or "The Faggot?" How come one kind of bigotry is cute and funny, while the other kind is objectionable and unthinkable? And how comes lesbians want to lynch this guy, while Orientals don't even care? I'm not offended myself, just curious.

And then again, look at "The Countess." Robbins shows him due deference in some ways, giving him a better nickname than "The Chink." Yet while Sissy Hankshaw can switch-hit with the best of them (as if that's normal for women) the countess is stuck with men only. And we certainly don't get any explicit sex scenes celebrating the love between two men! The Countess is a gay stereotype in a lot of ways, a dreadful snob, a celebrity name dropper, supercilious and arrogant, yadda yadda yadda. Yet you never hear of male homosexuals attacking this book. Why?

Bonanza Jellybean is such an adorable character. She's funny, playful, cheerful, tender towards both sexes, and a life-loving personality all around. She made me laugh and cry, and I never do that. What sort of minority group is offended to have a person like this counted among their ranks?

I don't want to pretend this book is flawless. Sissy Hankshaw really is an unusually passive and timid heroine. The sentimentality about Native Americans is so over the top as to be some kind of joke. (Larry McMurtry's Blue Duck would make quick work of Julian Gitche.) A lot of what Robbins has to say about the poor whites of South Richmond is the smug posturing of a patronizing liberal, mixed with the self-loathing of a cracker who rose too fast and has to keep assuring his Manhattan friends he's really one of them.

But you know what? I don't care. The prose is glorious, the characters are lovable, the humor is light and breezy, and the sex (especially in Julian's apartment) is hotter than anything this side of Blushing Books.