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Still Life with Woodpecker (1980)

by Tom Robbins

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5,407681,518 (3.9)192
Still Life with Woodpeckerreveals the purpose of the moon, explains the difference between criminals and outlaws, examines the conflict between social activism and romantic individualism, and paints a portrait of contemporary society that includes powerful Arabs, exiled royalty, and pregnant cheerleaders. It also deals with the problem of redheads.… (more)
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» See also 192 mentions

English (65)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (68)
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
I'm giving it five stars for the incredible prose and three stars because if I had to read a character saying, "Uh,oh. Spaghetti-o" one more time... ( )
  auldhouse | Sep 30, 2021 |
This was my first Tom Robbins book, and though I liked it, I think my enthusiasm may have been greater back in my teenage years when I was a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut, a writer to whom Robbins is sometimes compared. But at that time, though I certainly would have appreciated Robbins's brilliant wordplay, humor, and overall excellent writing and intelligence, I wonder if I would have lacked the real-life experience to understand his critique of "last quarter of the twentieth century" materialism, hypocrisy, group-think, political correctness, and environmental and social movements, not to mention his philosophical pinings over "how do you make love stay." Because for all his crazy, drug-induced, or enhanced word-craft, his salty and sexual language, and his bizarre musings, this novel deals with serious issues and moral and philosophical questions about what constitutes a life worth living. And while Bernard M. Wrangle, whose real name is Baby, at first turned me off with his aggressive and pre-Me Too Movement courtship of his love interest, princess Leigh Cheri, by the end of the novel I had come to appreciate and like him more and understood that this really is, as the book's title tells you, "A Sort of Love Story." Nevertheless, Robins's characters, are really ciphers for his ideas (and vehicles for some of his better puns). Nothing is really believeable, but it's not supposed to be a realistic novel. It is a fable of sorts. Maybe a truly American version of the sort of magical realism made popular by Central and South American authors. ( )
  OccassionalRead | Mar 8, 2021 |
Tom Robbins tries to write like Kurt Vonnegut and utterly fails. This is just an overly complex collection of sentences with pseudo funny comparison words that border line on beer tent humor.

It was not unreadable, as in a level where would have to put that book down and away, but it was at a level where I say, I read one book from him, no need to ever read another one. ( )
1 vote gullevek | Dec 15, 2020 |
This book was a clever and fun read, but the main "love interest" just really gave me the creeps. That was probably the point, but it just really detracted from my reading experience. Not my most academic review, but there you go! ( )
  nancyjean19 | Jun 3, 2020 |
The second Tom Robbins book I read. Writing a review 17 years later, I remember being enthralled with the language and the intricate intertwining details and the wacked-out characters I wished-I-could and was-afraid-I-would meet someday. I studied the Camel-pack cover looking for clues. It blew my freshman mind. ( )
  revafisheye | Jan 10, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tom Robbinsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Franconeri, FrancescoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
LePere, LeslieIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
You don't need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Don't even listen, simply wait.
Don't even wait.
Be quite still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you.
To be unmasked, it has no choice.
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
—Franz Kafka
Here should be a picture of my favorite apple.
It is also a nude & bottle.
It is also a landscape.
There are no such things as still lifes.
—Erica Jong
Dedication
To the memory of
Keith Wyman and Betty Bowen:
if there is a place where people
go after death, its proprietors have
got their hands full with those two.

To everybody whose letters
I haven’t answered.
and to G. R., special delivery.
First words
In the last quarter of the twentieth century, at a time when Western civilization was declining too rapidly for comfort and yet too slowly to be very exciting, much of the world sat on the edge of an increasingly expensive theater seat, waiting—with various combinations of dread, hope, and ennui—for something momentous to occur.
PROLOGUE
If this typewriter can't do it, then fuck it, it can’t be done.
This is the all-new Remington SL3, the machine that answers the question, “Which is harder, trying to read The Brothers Karamazov while listening to Stevie Wonder records or hunting for Easter eggs on a typewriter keyboard?” This is the cherry on top of the cowgirl. The burger served by the genius waitress. The Empress card.
Quotations
"One must agree that the last quarter of the twentieth century was a severe period for lovers. It was a time when women openly resented men, a time when men felt betrayed by women, a time when romantic relationships took on the character of ice in spring stranding many little children on jagged and inhospitable floes."
"Regardless of what else the press might have contributed to our culture, regardless of whether it is our first defense against totalitarianism or a wimpy force that undermines authentic experiences by categorizing them according to faddish popular interest, the press has give us big fat Sunday papers to ease our weekly mental menstrual bloat."
"If beneath the great issues and all-encompassing questions (as underplayed as they were in the last quarter of the twentieth century) a more intimate struggle rages, a struggle whose real goal was romantic fulfillment, maybe it was courageous and honorable to attempt to transcend that struggle, to insist on something more than that.
Maybe."
"What is more likely is that technology will bypass artists, that a day is coming when our novels will be written by computers, the same devices that will paint our murals and compose our tunes."
"Who does have a love life anymore? These days people have sex lives, not love lives... I don't have a love life because I've never met a man who knew how to have a love life. Maybe I don't know how, either."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Still Life with Woodpeckerreveals the purpose of the moon, explains the difference between criminals and outlaws, examines the conflict between social activism and romantic individualism, and paints a portrait of contemporary society that includes powerful Arabs, exiled royalty, and pregnant cheerleaders. It also deals with the problem of redheads.

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Book description
Haiku summary
Red-headed outlaw,
armed with lots of dynamite,
blows stuff up for love.

(Carnophile)

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Average: (3.9)
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