Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas by Tom Robbins (1994) is about the transformative quest of materialist commodities broker, Gwen Mati, in the days immediately following a stock market crash. It is literally a Fool’s Journey—told in the second person present tense as if it were a tarot spread explained by a reader. Indeed, one of the characters in the book is Gwen’s tarot reader.
In this excerpt the Fool appears in Robbins’ inimitable style:
“A giddy youth is skipping through the wilderness, seemingly oblivious to the dangers around him. His cap is on backwards as if he doesn’t know, or doesn’t care, whether he’s coming or going. Dum-dum-dee-dum. Skip along, skip along. In his left hand he holds, as though presenting it to society, a white rose, the apple’s opposite, emblem of purity and innocence. Over his right shoulder, tramp-style, a stick with a bag hanging from it. `What’s in your bag, Fool?’ `Dum-dum-dee-dum.’ ‘We’ll trade you a kilo of gold for the contents of your bag, sight unseen.’ ‘Dum-dum-dee-dum.’ He is an admirer of clouds, and with his eyes turned upward, he has skipped right to the brink of a deep and rocky chasm. The promontory is crumbling beneath his boots, yet forward he goes, clear eyes squinting in the sun, a smile on his lips, his bag of useless trinkets swinging wildly.”
Years ago, Tom Robbins was asked on National Public Radio why the Fool applies to this protagonist, and he answered: “Well, the card applies to all of us, really [which may be why the book is addressed to “you”]. The Fool card may be the most important card in the Tarot deck, in that it epitomizes the Fool’s journey. We’re all on this journey, whether we know it or not. In the context of this book, the three days in the life of Gwendolyn Mati that are described in this book—she is on an escalated Fool’s journey.”