• Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates

  • By: Tom Robbins
  • Narrated by: Keith Szarabajka
  • Length: 16 hrs and 47 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (1,688 ratings)

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Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates

By: Tom Robbins
Narrated by: Keith Szarabajka
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Publisher's Summary

"Tom Robbins has a grasp on things that dazzles the brain and he's also a world-class storyteller." (Thomas Pynchon)

In Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, his seventh and biggest novel, the wise, witty, always gutsy Tom Robbins brings onstage the most complex and compelling character he has ever created. 

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 robust bon vivant who can be as squeamish as any fop, 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, Robbins explores, challenges, mocks, and celebrates virtually every major aspect of our mercurial era.As many readers well know, to describe a Tom Robbins plot does not begin to describe a Tom Robbins novel. Moreover, the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author, with his love of language, nuance, and surprise, is as opposed to story summations as J.D. Salinger. 

It is revealing, however, to learn what things Robbins lists as having influenced the writing of Fierce Invalids:

"This book was inspired by an entry from Bruce Chatwin's journal, by a CIA agent I met in Southeast Asia, by the mystery surrounding the lost prophecy of the Virgin of Fatima, by the increasing evidence that the interplay of opposites is the engine that runs the universe, and by embroidered memories of old Terry and the Pirates comic books.

"Robbins also has said that throughout the writing of Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates he was guided by the advice of Julia Child: "Learn to handle hot things. Keep your knives sharp. Above all, have a good time." 

Perhaps that is why he has managed to write a provocative, rascally novel that takes no prisoners - and yet is upbeat, romantic, meaningful, adventurous, edifying, and fun. 

©2000 Tom Robbins (P)2000 Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Winner, 2001 Audie Award, Fiction, Unabridged

"Tom Robbins... has again deputized himself to carry the freak flag of irreverence and fleshly indulgence." (The New York Times Book Review)

What listeners say about Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wildly entertaining-excellent naration!

If you find the beginning slow or confusing, stick with it, after ten or fifteen minutes it will all begin to congeal and you will be hooked and submersed completely.

I've been an avid audio book listener for about fifteen years, an Audible member for several years, and this is quite possibly my all-time favorite. The narration of this is perfect, in my opinion. Keith Szarabajka did such an outstanding job reading, his characters came to life more vibrantly than any other audio book I have listened to. The story is engrossing and seductive, with moments of laugh-out-loud hilarity. Obvious high points include Maestra's character and her relationship with Switters, which is hysterical. The voices of the random and vastly different characters were so well done that at no point did I ever have to try to figure out who was speaking (which does happen rather often with heavy dialog in audio books). Robbin's entertaining use of language and his skillful weaving of cultural details makes reading or listening to this book feel like a journey. To anyone who has traveled in third world countries and ventured outside the beaten path of the big cities, the descriptions of Switters' adventures will ring bells.

Being a woman and a feminist, I beg to differ with the two reviewers who claim this book is not suitable for most women. It's likely to offend the people who don't "get" Robbins voice. He addresses taboo subjects in a very unapologetic way, but his stories are like onions--they have layers. Pay attention.

Sixteen hours of good stuff. What a bargain! And so many great one-liners that you will be insisting your friends read or listen to it so they will get your jokes. I laughed so hard at a few passages that I had to loan my headphones to the stranger sitting next to me on a flight, in order to explain, and even though he only listened to a few minutes of it, he was laughing out loud himself and writing the name of the book down, thanking me. You will too!

33 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

What a riot!

Perhaps the funniest audiobook I've heard. Add to that Tom Robbins' entertaining use of the language and rich character development, and this is one of the all-time best.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Best Robbins Ever

Your average Joe and Jane will find this book offensive and uncomfortable. Seekers, freaks, and the open minded will likely find a great deal of brain candy and laughs within. Hunter S. Thompson might have even liked this one... if he was feeling abnormally positive that day.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Just Another Cliche (That is

This was my first Tom Robbins book. I found it well written (content aside) and well read (although there are some lapses in the female voices) and at times quite amusing. My main problem is that is so cliche in its Christian bashing. For someone, seemingly, well versed in religion and philosophy Mr. Robbins either misunderstands or has chosen to, unnecessarily, twist some of the primary points of Christian Theology. He also points to the excesses of those failing to live up to Christian standards as being the defining character/nature of Christianity. I believe that Mr. Robbins needs to get a life (and maybe do better research) before writing any more books pertaining to religion (especially Christianity) and the nature of reality. Most of his views are tired, out-of-date(not to mention mostly wrong) and definitely cliche. I weary of characters who are presented as educated, intelligent, open-minded and with something important to say but in this guise simply present a failed and extremely small-minded view of the world and other people...

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fierce Invalids Home form Hot Climates

I am a fan! I have listened to and/or read this book six or seven times. It is a treasured favorite -- right up there, with its close second, Jitterbug Perfume.

Somehow in this quirky atmosphere of cheerful contradiction, Mr. Robbins has managed to portray what Robert Graves called The Triple Goddess -- the Maiden (Suzy), the Mother (stretch that a bit for Domino), and the Crone (Maestra). Each of these characters, and Switters himself (the main character), is portrayed with gleefully ribald sensitivity -- "If I may call it that."

Listening to this is time very well spent, inasmuch as one of the most remarkable aspects of Mr. Robbins' writing is his ability to educate readers with respect his opinions (always astute) concerning fascinating issues both well-known and not so well-known -- Finnegan's Wake, the Virgin of Fatima, some Middle Eastern matters,the Catholic Church, the CIA, and Peruvian jungle shamans, to name a few.

Fierce Invalids is not for everyone. If you shudder at things of a bold sexual nature, or at words that are ancient and expressive, but still feared, then by all means, skip this one.

Otherwise enjoy!

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Clever and funny!

I read this book years ago but I think I enjoyed it even more listening to it. The witty illiterations are more effective when heard than read, and I don't have to stop reading to laugh. In fact, I'm going to but another Robbins' book as soon as I finnish this review.
Robbins' criticisms of organized religions have lost some of their venom since "Another Roadside Attraction," and feel almost as if he is disappointed that they haven't done something more spiritual with all of the faithful followers they have.
Don't be dissuaded by some of the reviews here that are shocked and appalled by the sexuality of the book. As Sailor Boy the Parrot would tell them, "People of the World, Relax!"

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Funny, outlandish and irreverent

This is my favorite Tom Robbins book. I read the book first and truly enjoyed Robbins' unique use of the language and his humor. For some unknown reason I decided to pick up the audible book as well and spend another sixteen hours in Robbins' company.

While I would have guessed that Robbins is far better read than listened to, Keith Szarabajka proved me wrong. This is a great narrator that gives justice to Robbins' story.

Don't get turned off by the length of the book if you are not already a Robbins fan. This book might just make you a believer!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good, not great

I am a huge Tom Robbins fan, so I really enjoyed the book, but it's not his best work. The nonsensical plotlines at times seem actually nonsensical rather than delightful and playful. Still a good listen, but not top 10.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Perfection

Those uncomfortable with lewd language or frank discussion of mildly aberrant sexual behaviors are not likely to enjoy this book…but I loved it.

Offbeat, witty, surprising, funny and interesting. Who could ask for more?

The narration was wonderful, with tone and timing complimenting the complex and challenging writing perfectly.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

This Author has Keyboard Diarrhea

Tom Robbins stopped being funny years ago. This book is overly long and self-indulgent and not nearly as profound or clever as the author thinks it is. The author's ramblings get pretty irritating after the first few chapters. This sounds like it was written by a sex-obsessed, over-caffienated philosophy major with literary pretensions. This sloppy, rambling schtick was cute in his first book "Still Life with Woodpecker." Robbins' recent books come off as if he's trying to see how much he can get away with; he's not even trying to tell a compelling story, just dousing the reader with pointless, showy verbiage to make up for lack of substance.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Daniel JT
  • 07-31-17

Great audiobook

Excellent as always from Robbins. Narrator is great, but would recommend listening at 90% speed

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • stacey r.
  • 10-16-21

tom robbins

what more can I say ?
The most dangerous author in the world. Bring on the Clowns .

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Al
  • 05-04-18

Wahoo

As good no even better than expected if not slightly look over your shoulder ish!