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 and perhaps most beautifully crafted novel--a work as timeless as myth yet as topical as the latest international threat. On one level, this is a book about identity, masquerade and disguise--about "the false mustache of the world"--but neither the mists of Laos nor the smog of Bangkok, neither the overcast of Seattle nor the fog of San Francisco, neither the murk of the intelligence community nor the mummery of the circus can obscure the linguistic phosphor that illuminates the pages of Villa Incognito. A female fan once wrote to Tom Robbins: "Your books make me think, they make me laugh, they make me horny and they make me aware of the wonder of everything in life."
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April 26, 2004
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Excerpt from Villa Incognito by Tom Robbins
It has been reported that Tanuki fell from the sky using his scrotum as a parachute.
That is not so ridiculous when we take into account the unusual size of Tanuki's scrotum.
Well, okay, it's still pretty ridiculous--and no less so just because in relation to his overall body mass, Tanuki's scrotum is proportionately larger than the scrota of elephants, whales, and the Jolly Green Giant. In those days, his testicular balloon bag may actually have been even more voluminous than it is today, though that's difficult to imagine since his balls very nearly drag the ground as it is, and any increase in volume would surely have been an impediment to mobility if, indeed, not a source of some pain. There is also the possibility that Tanuki had (and perhaps still has) the power to increase or decrease scrotum size at will.
Yet, having said all that, we must concede that the role of anatomical size per se in Tanuki's descent is not easy to determine, and a more pertinent question might be not how the badger managed to use his significant seed sack to parachute to earth but, rather: Where did he parachute from? And why?
"Don't be stupid. Tanuki. Himself."
"Oh, I see. Well, where did you come from, Tanuki himself?"
"From the Other World."
"What other world?"
"The one before this one, moron. The World of the Animal Ancestors." His voice could have been shoveled from a gravel pit.
"Ah so. Excuse me, then, honorable animal ancestor. How did you get here?"
"Parachuted in. It's strictly forbidden, of course. Against all the rules. But what the hell. . . ."
The farmer looked around for signs of equipment, for a silk canopy, specifically, and a harness.
"Never mind that," growled Tanuki.
"Well, what is it you want here?"
"To drink rice wine."
"Sake? Understandable, but I don't think so. From the look of the grin on your face, you've drunk too much sake already. Anything else?"
"Yes. Girls. Young, pretty girls."
The man snorted such a laugh that something shot out of his nostril. "Forget about it. No girl would have anything to do with a funny-looking creature like you."
"Don't be too sure, old fool," snarled Tanuki, and with that he butted the farmer in the midsection with such force that the man fell to the ground, speechless, gasping for breath. Then, on his hind legs, round belly jiggling like a Santa Claus implant, the badger waddled over to the well where the man's daughter was filling water jars, and fixed her with his toothy, high-voltage grin, a smile so overheated and manic and wild it could crack a funhouse mirror or peel the lacquer off the chopsticks in a maiden's hair.