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Time for Robo Hardcover – January 1, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 303 pages
  • Publisher: Black Heron Press; First Edition edition (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0930773543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0930773540
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.6 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,923,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Inescapably evocative of Vonnegut and Pynchon, this labyrinthine attempt to transform modern times' absurd hyperactivity into dark, edgy satire too often collapses into its own miasma of convoluted subplots and indeterminate digressions. Noted Newsweek art critic and artist Plagens writes dense, parenthetical (at times, virtually impenetrable) prose, taking uncertain aim at the foibles of writing, religion, sports mania and politics, with minor excursions into art, pseudo-science and sexual obsession. Introduced by the Ghost (an entity that is possibly a computer, a duck or God), the plot rambles from North Carolina to Idaho and California. Among the characters are failed novelist Billy Lockjaw; minor pro basketball player Robot-jock; pseudo-scientist Serge Protector; horny charismatic theosopher Rev. William Halliwell; 15th-century Flemish painter Dieric Maender; Noam Sain, an itinerant southern California evangelist (his German bride metamorphoses into Hitler's infamous Axis Sally); and Matt Medium, a WWII spook who heads an Orwellian surveillance agency. As he indicates in a pre-pub interview, Plagens is attempting to emulate the Chinese box, stories-within-stories formula, but from the beginning he is unable to concoct a cogent montage of interconnected characters and plots. Though he might have benefited from the example of Vonnegut's signature verbal economy, this book does provide a kind of whirlwind, cacaphonous pleasure for readers willing to submit to its unwieldy burden of loquaciousness.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Take a small-time novelist in Mylar, GA, an apocalyptic cult, a superjock father and son in Calvary, ID, an increasingly New Age traveling evangelist, various secret agents, a changeling painting, and the spirit that holds the universe together. Mix in the themes of paternity, conspiracy, invisibility, time travel, and the end of time and what do you get? In the case of Time for Robo, one of the most creative novels of the 1990s. Plagens begins with a wild chapter reminiscent of Irvine Welsh, presents nine more chapters that could be separate short stories as Part 1 ("Alas, through the Looking Glass") and uses Part 2 ("Time the End of Till") to tie the separate threads into a Gordian knot. It's rather astounding for a first novelist best known as a painter and art critic to write a novel comparable to those of Thomas Pynchon, Jim Dodge, or Robert Coover. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries.AJim Dwyer, California State Univ. Lib., Chico
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Peter Plagens is an insightful, witty art critic. As a first-time novelist, Plagens is, well, an insightful, witty art critic. Make no mistake, he has always done the art-criticism-thing very well indeed (he even gets to call Robert Hughes "Bob"). In addition to his steady gig at "Newsweek," Plagens has (for many years) also been a painter; now, he's ventured into the territory of writing fiction. One wonders if a debut of the Plagens Neckwear Collection is just over the near horizon.
Voices layer up in "Robo" like IHOP flapjacks. There's a God-narrator-in-the-sky; an author grappling with his second novel; and a pair of peculiar main characters -- Robo, a physical-genius pro-basketball headcase, and Noam Sain, an out-there California minister with a church of his own revelation. (The hook here is that Robo possessed the on-court ability to become split-second invisible while taking the ball to the hoop.) The whole melange is bold mix, but ultimately like an errant three-point shot: you get a whack of backboard but no net. There's a stretch in "Robo" where Plagens sums up the happenings in detail. This is woefully reminiscent of a hopelessly tangled screenplay, where a chin-stroking character steps forward and ponders aloud (for the sake of an audience drifting into REM), "Now let me see if I've got this straight: we've got a, b, c...etc."
At the final buzzer, "Time for Robo" is a no-go. For tortured, impenetrable prose, stick with the Pynchon literary nail bed. For sheer, flop-sweat comic terror crossed with celebrity jock strap sniffing, go with the Fred Exley classic, "A Fan's Notes." For a nifty metaphysical-apocalyptic acid-trip, try R.E. Klein's recent "The History of Our World Beyond the Wave."
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