Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates

Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates

by Tom Robbins


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“As clever and witty a novel as anyone has written in a long time . . . Robbins takes readers on a wild, delightful ride. . . . A delight from beginning to end.”—Buffalo News

Switters is a contradiction for all seasons: an anarchist who works for the government; a pacifist who carries a gun; a vegetarian who sops up ham gravy; a cyberwhiz who hates computers; a man who, though obsessed with the preservation of innocence, is aching to deflower his high-school-age stepsister (only to become equally enamored of a nun ten years his senior). Yet there is nothing remotely wishy-washy about Switters. He doesn’t merely pack a pistol. He is a pistol. And as we dog Switters’s strangely elevated heels across four continents, in and out of love and danger, discovering in the process the “true” Third Secret of Fatima, we experience Tom Robbins—that fearless storyteller, spiritual renegade, and verbal break dancer—at the top of his game. On one level this is a fast-paced CIA adventure story with comic overtones; on another it’s a serious novel of ideas that brings the Big Picture into unexpected focus; but perhaps more than anything else, Fierce Invalids is a sexy celebration of language and life.

Praise for Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates

“Superb.”New York Post
“Dangerous? Wicked? Forbidden? You bet. . . . Pour yourself a bowl of chips and dig in.”Daily News, New York 

“Robbins is a great writer . . . and definitely a provocative rascal.”The Tennessean

“Whoever said truth is stranger than fiction never read a Tom Robbins novel. . . Clever, creative, and witty, Robbins tosses off impassioned observations like handfuls of flower petals.”San Diego Union-Tribune

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781842430286
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 04/28/2001
Pages: 415
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.87(h) x (d)

About the Author

Tom Robbins has been called “a vital natural resource” by The Oregonian, “one of the wildest and most entertaining novelists in the world” by the Financial Times of London, and “the most dangerous writer in the world today” by Fernanda Pivano of Italy’s Corriere della Sera. A Southerner by birth, Robbins has lived in and around Seattle since 1962.


LaConner, Washington

Date of Birth:

July 22, 1936

Place of Birth:

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Read an Excerpt

Lima, Peru
October 1997

The naked parrot looked like a human fetus spliced onto a kosher chicken. It was so old it had lost every single one of its feathers, even its pinfeathers, and its bumpy, jaundiced skin was latticed by a network of rubbery blue veins.

"Pathological," muttered Switters, meaning not simply the parrot but the whole scene, including the shrunken old woman in whose footsteps the bird doggedly followed as she moved about the darkened villa. The parrot's scabrous claws made a dry, scraping noise as they fought for purchase on the terra-cotta floor tiles, and when, periodically, the creature lost its footing and skidded an inch or two, it issued a squawk so quavery and feeble that it sounded as if it were being petted by the Boston Strangler. Each time it squawked, the crone clucked, whether in sympathy or disapproval one could not tell, for she never turned to her devoted little companion but wandered aimlessly from one piece of ancient wooden furniture to another in her amorphous black dress.

Switters feigned appreciation, but he was secretly repulsed, all the more so because Juan Carlos, who stood beside him on the patio, also spying in the widow's windows, was beaming with pride and satisfaction. Switters slapped at the mosquitoes that perforated his torso and cursed every hair on that hand of Fate that had snatched him into South too-goddamn-vivid America.

Boquichicos, Peru
November 1997

Attracted by the lamplight that seeped through the louvers, a mammoth moth beat against the shutters like a storm. Switters watched it with some fascination as he waited for the boys to bring his luggage up from the river. That moth was no butterfly, that was certain. It was a night animal, and it had a night animal's mystery.

Butterflies were delicate and gossamer, but this moth possessed strength and weight. Its heavy wings were powdered like the face of an old actress. Butterflies were presumed to be carefree, moths were slaves to a fiery obsession. Butterflies seemed innocuous, moths somehow...erotic. The dust of the moth was a sexual dust. The twitch of the moth was a sexual twitch. Suddenly Switters touched his throat and moaned. He moaned because it occurred to him how much the moth resembled a clitoris with wings.


There were grunts on the path behind him, and Inti emerged from the forest bearing, somewhat apprehensively, Switters's crocodile-skin valise. In a moment the other two boys appeared with the rest of his gear. It was time to review accommodations in the Hotel Boquichicos. He dreaded what he might find behind its shuttered windows, its double-screened doors, but he motioned for the boys to follow him in. "Let's go. This insect—" He nodded at the great moth that, fan though it might, was unable to stir the steaming green broth that in the Amazon often substitutes for air. "This insect is making me feel—" Switters hesitated to utter the word, even though he knew Inti could understand no more than a dozen simple syllables of English. "This insect is making me feel libidinous."

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Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 72 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the first Robbins novel I'd read since Jitterbug Perfume in 1985. I loved each of his first four novels, and JP seemed a kind of summary or clarification of the ideas presented in those first four, leading me to conclude that Robbins had said all he had to say. I still think that to a degree, yet Fierce Invalids offers something fresh in that it takes those same ideas, that same mystical/spiritual approach to the puzzle of human existence, and applies them to a world that has totally changed since JP and its predecessors. Although published 16 years after Jitterbug in 2000, Fierce Invalids takes place in the world we still inhabit in 2013 rather than the 60s-70s world of the first four novels. Seeing how Robbins' concerns play out in today's world was the most interesting aspect of this novel for me. It certainly seems more difficult today to see things from that spiritual/look-for-the-reality-behind-reality point of view. As a result, I would agree with a previous reviewer who says the writing style seems forced at points, and the polemical passages too often seem like set speeches instead of dialogue that arises naturally from the story. Despite these shortcomings. however, Fierce Invalids left me feeling like I'd reconnected with a part of myself I'd almost lost over the past 30 years, and I think the world in general is in that same state. There is a wisdom here that the 21st century needs, and if the execution seems rough in places it's only because Robbins is exploring how what the questers of the early novels learned can be applied in order to salvage something -- our humanity, perhaps? -- from the mess we have now. The light-dark dualism of Fierce Invalids is perfectly reflective of those today seeking to find common ground between what's called Right and Left to form a more sane world. I'm thinking of people like Julian Assange, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Edward Snowden, maybe even Pope Francis. Finally, besides being relevant and hilarious, I doubt anyone will ever come up with a better definition of ADHD than Robbins' "extrapolatory zigzag."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is intoxicating, addicting, hilarious, thought provoking, and honest. I only wish that there was an entire series following Switters as I want to never stop reading this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Switters is a credit to his employers, his readers and his grandmother. Tom why can`t you be more prolific? One of those writers who churns out 100 books before retirement - or at least dies trying. My only consolation for your meagre (in numerical terms) output is at the fact that this one is perfect. I`ll settle for that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jitterbug may be TR's best book. But, no doubt, Switters his finest creation. Indiana Jones meets McMurphy from Cuckoo's Nest! As far as bad Bobby Case precedent exists. The ending may let down but the episode in the South American jungle - featuring the pomey anthropologist, the pyramid headed soothsayer and Switters in a hammock - perhaps the funniest ever put to paper. Don't buy this book if you are bent on discovering the Colonel's secret recipe. Otherwise...
Guest More than 1 year ago
The novel is about Switters, an anarchist CIA operative who is caught up in a superstitious medley of confusion when he ventures deep into the jungle of South America to free his grandmother's easy-going parrot. The adventure continues to three other continents, following Switters as he finds trouble in every form imaginable. Robbins has outdone himself again, proving the best novels are those with endless supplies of political and religious maxims. Not since Fight Club has humor and philosophy combined to produce such a bold work of literature. Robbins is an intelligent scoundrel who crafts each sentence to fit his beautiful creation: Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is probably the best book for anyone who loves the contradictive nature of mankind and the usless knowledge possesed by all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a HUGE Tom Robbins fan...this HAS to be the best I've read so far. My very open-minded 82 year old father borrowed this book...and LOVED IT!
SpencerM on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the handful of books I have read and thoroughly enjoyed more than once. Tom Robbins at his twisted finest. Art, jungle intrigue, religion, and a schooling in names for the hoo hoo; what more could one ask for in a book?
sfisk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago

Not as fast paced and lacking some of his usual wit. I prefer his first 4 or 5 novels to this one...
Cecilturtle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Robbins at his best with a look at espionage
cpprpnny770 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of Robbins' best works. Again his characters are unbelievably eccentric--a witch doctor with a pyramid shaped head. A matisse model turned nun; rogue cia agents,and let's not forget the bald parrot! Throw in a Vatican cover-up of prophesies from an apparition of the Virgin Mary and a witch doctor's curse that the protagonists feet must never touch the ground again, and you have an awfully entertaining tale with TR giving it to the Catholic church again. Robbins' analogies make me laugh out loud!
kuuursten on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Robbins can do no wrong. He is wildly entertaining, always, but especially in this.
beau.p.laurence on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of his funniest. although I kept wondering just how long this poor man had gone without sex when he wrote it ;~)
tessa00 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
By far the most delightful, unexpected, boisterous, enchanting and entertaining book I've ever read. It is wonderful and unconventionally inspirational.
mamorico on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite pieces of contemporary fiction. Robbins is hysterical.
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