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.