Still Life with Woodpecker

Still Life with Woodpecker

by Tom Robbins


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Still Life with Woodpecker is sort of a love story that takes place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes. It reveals 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781842430224
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 04/28/2001
Edition description: REV
Pages: 277
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.87(h) x (d)

About the Author

Tom Robbins has been called “a vital natural resource” by The Oregonian, “one of the wildest and most entertaining novelists in the world” by the Financial Times of London, and “the most dangerous writer in the world today” by Fernanda Pivano of Italy’s Corriere della Sera. A Southerner by birth, Robbins has lived in and around Seattle since 1962.


LaConner, Washington

Date of Birth:

July 22, 1936

Place of Birth:

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Read an Excerpt

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.

I sense that the novel of my dreams is in the Remington SL3--although it writes much faster than I can spell. And no matter that my typing finger was pinched last week by a giant land crab. This baby speaks electric Shakespeare at the slightest provocation and will rap out a page and a half if you just look at it hard.

"What are you looking for in a typewriter?" the salesman asked.

"Something more than words, " I replied. "Crystals. I want to send my reader armloads of crystals, some of which are the colors of orchids and peonies, some of which pick up radio signals from a secret city that is half Paris and half Coney Island."

He recommended the Remington SL3.

My old typewriter was named Olivetti. I know an extraordinary juggler named Olivetti. No relation. There is, however, a similarity between juggling and composing on my typewriter. The trick is, when you spill something, make it look like part of the act.

I have in my cupboard, under lock and key, the last bottle of Anais Nin (green label) to be smuggled out of Punta del Visionario before the revolution. Tonight, I'll pull the cork. I'll inject 10 cc. into a ripe lime, the way natives do. I'll suck. And begin--

If this typewriter can't do it, I'll swear it can't bedone.

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Still Life with Woodpecker 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 153 reviews.
Modern_Day_Philosopher More than 1 year ago
"Sharks are the criminals of the sea. Dolphins are the outlaws." Most people view outlaws as outlandish and destructive people, but only few have been able to phonetically explain what depth and "laws" an outlaw must live by. In the story Still Life with a Woodpecker written by Tom Robbins, he is remarkable in his ability to make such deep ideas come out at a humorous level and yet still be thought of in a serious way. The story involves two abstract and opposite people who meet, love, and hate each other in a mere 3 pages. The characters, romance, and morals to this novel make it a classic. The main character is a woman named Leigh-Cheri, but she is no ordinary actually she is a princess living hidden in the United States. She strictly believes in peace amongst everything, and just wants no one to feel any harm. She lived in solitude for a while due to her miscarriage as a cheerleader at a football game, and in her embarrassment dropped out of school. Now the second character is known as the Woodpecker. He loves dynamite and feels that everything can be fixed if dynamite is used correctly. He lives outside the law, and feels that it is his duty to go against the government for government to exist. He is a very intellectual individual and strange man. He is quoted saying, "The lung of the smoker is a naked virgin thrown as a sacrifice into the god fire", which just shows his abstract views on things. I have never really been a fan of romance novels, but the romance in this is very different and deeper than most love we see in movies and shows. The Woodpecker and Princess meet at a peace fest in Hawaii under strange circumstances. He was trying to blow up part of the fest, but placed the dynamite in the wrong location. After she places him under citizen's arrest he woos her without even trying. It is very humorous how they both have very strong beliefs in different things and yet love overcame them. Although most themes within the story were underlying ones they were still apparent in the novel. For example, "Funny how we think of romance as always involving two, when the romance of solitude can be ever so much more delicious and intense" this was said by the Woodpecker when he had lost someone he loved. It really shows that a person can live without a partner as long as they love themselves. Also he talks about how outlaws are actually a necessity to society, but somehow not part of society. This really shows how our world is today if you think about it. In Conclusion, Still Life with a Woodpecker is a great read for anyone who loves an easy read with a deep story and an occasional laugh. I would highly recommend it.
judianne727 More than 1 year ago
I love this book. So far I have purchased atleast 3 copies and borrowed it twice (somehow mine keep disappearing.) It took me all of two days to read it, for the simple fact that I simply couldn't put it down. I adore Tom Robbins, and have also read Even Cowgirls, Another Roadside Attraction, and Fierce Invailds Home from Hot Climates; and I can honestly say that of them all, this book is my favorite and will always remain close to my heart.
alivalentine More than 1 year ago
Engaging in 'Still Life' should cure such ailments, if only temporarily (which is far better than Never, mind you). As an avid Robbins fan, I can confidentally say that 'Still Life' is my favorite book of his- if not my favorite book that I've ever had the pleasure of reading. The quirky, witty writing style, in a bit of a stream-of-consciousness form (yet not overly so), hooked me immediately, and the unique nature of the book, characters, and love story is brilliant. A truly remarkable read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this fable and romance set in the late 20th century, humorist Tom Robbins pulls out all the literary stops as he plays with language and narrative. He interrupts the story to sermonize and explain a bit too much for my taste. Still, I enjoy his unconventional style and countercultural mindset. Without giving any of the plot away, I think this unconventional book about a princess and an outlaw can be best summarized by what one of the lead characters says near the end: 'Ah, Leigh-Cheri, life is too short for us to be deprived of any one of its joys by the sad, sick androids who control laws and economics.' Indeed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
as with the first reviewer i agree, this book wasnt as great as his previous works. the only one that i have read besides still life with woodpecker is skinny legs and all and that book just resonated with exitement, thrill, and laughter. i found still life with woodpecker to be lacking in many areas of the storyline. for one thing, there wasnt any daffying style humor that i was accustom to know him having in his works. second, i found that the main character (leigh-cheri) was quite familar to another of his characters in a completely different novel (ellen-cherry charles). for those who are familiar with the latter character, as you are reading this book its sort of hard to get into the storyline of still life with woodpecker. another disappointment was the structure of the format of the book; mainly, the placements of a prologue, several interludes, and an epilogue. all of which are highly annoying and didnt seem best fitted in a tom robbins novel. they just didnt belong there. the constant mentioning of his Remington SL3 and whether or not it was up for the task of taking on such a story was just out of place. the way the interludes and god the end, it gave me the impression that he must of been drunk or on a hangover when he was actually working on this novel. all in all, i think that if a reader were to attempt to enjoy this novel that he/she should read this book within one or two sit ins. maybe that will change the pace and drama of the storyline and actually make the mentioning of the Remington SL3 seem relevant. its a quite funny storyline when you think about it but there were definitely room for that robbinesque swagger. there are still some questions that i would have loved to have seen pertinent to the outcome of the characters if they would have been incorporated within the story. maybe even making the fate of the constructed pyramid a little more interesting or maybe ending the story with them being rich, deaf, and as an ambassador to the Carefest/Argon convention. also keep in mind that this was a work that he published in 1980, when he was relatively finding himself as a writer and after ten years of evolving one of his most funniest/exhilirating/popular novels was published in 1991. in the end, its best if you read the book and see for yourself. you'll definitely find the woodpecker to be a very comical and vibrant character. p.s. whatever happened to leigh-cheri's love for ralph nader. it would have been so funny if he was mentioned as a proponent to pyramidology and had a crazy idea to have it incorporated as a white house department if he were elected into the next election, as well as the surreptitious govt. study of lunaception and whether the queen of england knew about it all along and carelessly gratifited herself with its discovery. you see, the possibilites of this storyline is endless......
Anonymous 6 months ago
read it in college and loved it . read it now and it seems a little underdeveloped
sfisk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love all his stuff

I smoked Camel non filters for 25 years so I showed plenty of people the "magic" on every pack...

Read him obsessively one summer!
blocked on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What I remember most about Robbins are his creative metaphors. I also think he has great story titles and quirky characters.
s_mcinally on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked this up from a shelf in a flat stay while on holiday in Barcelona and devoured it. Thoroughly enjoyed it, can't remember why and can't remember much about it, just remember thinking I must read some more and thats what I did, read another two before he lost my interest.
meridius on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My favorite love story. I can re-read this and Robbin's other books I've read for the rest of my life. Byzantine, profane, hilarious, and trenchant.
Arctic-Stranger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How do you make love last? Indeed. Robbins can tell a very good story, and this is a very good story. Funny, tragic, erotic, mundane and always entertaining, this is the tale of what happens when a princess hooks up with an outlaw. READ THIS BOOK!
HvyMetalMG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very strange little book, but quite different and imaginative. Obviously Robbins, a cult-favorite among the hippy Phish crowd, must have been under the influence of something while he wrote this. It certainly feels that way. But it reminded me of a fairy tale on crack. I read this a while ago, but nothing really stands out. Maybe it was all one bad trip.
VVilliam on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tom Robbins' style takes a bit to get into, but then it's great. A very poetic book with amazing insights and theories. Even the throw-away jokes are top-notch. A great book to put love in perspective and have a great time.
Kyniska on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not a huge fan of Robbin's writing style; so far, it fails to totally engage me and I always end up putting his books down and doing something else for a few weeks. Despite these setbacks, I managed to finish Still Life With Woodpecker. I hold Tom Robbins in high esteem for his ability to use his books to share philosophy and I always agree wholeheatedly with his humorous yet miraculous views on life and human existence, meaning he appeals to both my common sense and my inner judgement. I'd gladly follow him as my guru (yes, I am aware of his opinion of gurus from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues), but as for wrapping me up in a story, he just doesn't do it for me.
tairngire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The style is there, but the story just isn't as well thought out or complex as Jitterbug Perfume or Skinny Legs And All (two of my favorite Robbins' books). It doesn't seem planned as much as it seemed to be thought up as Robbins went along (which is saying something that it still all fits together). More amateur and hinting at his much better works.
shabacus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had never read Tom Robbins before. I did not know what to expect. What I found was a very pleasant surprise, a book that will make sure I don't hesitate the next time a chance to read Tom Robbins comes around.A description of the plot would serve no purpose here, as the plot existed only to allow the amazingly vivid characters a chance to interact. There was philosophy, yes, but it was so fun to read that I didn't care. Unlike a lot of books that embed philosophical discussions into the dialogue, these always felt true to the characters, as if the characters were most important, and the philosophy second. That really worked for me.The book was funny, laugh out loud in places, but I wouldn't really describe it as a humorous book. Instead, it was a book that made me feel good, in an almost wholesome way--an odd statement considering the sexual content, but there it is. It's a Good book, capital G.Recommendation: For those who value language and character ahead of story. Familiarity with liberal/New Age culture of the early 80s preferred.
miketroll on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A lot of fun! Impossible to categorise.
ald83 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have read almost all of Robbins' books, and they are all amazing. Such a great writing style and sense of humor! This is by far my favorite though!
angela.vaughn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got this book on referral from an old friend. I was surprised at the story line and for personal reasons, I enjoyed the little sayings between the Woodpecker and the Princess. I found it wildly funny the notion of love between the two, and a little touched at the same time. It threw me a little when I saw it was an actual love story in modern times. I can say that I may not refer it to my grandma, but maybe an open minded friend.
annaxt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I must have thought a thousand times that I ought to write to my absolute favourite writer Tom Robbins. But it never happens. What always stops me is shyness. I don't know what to say. How can I do his books justice without the words falling flat? How do you address the pharao of fine-tuned formulations? What do you write to the king of consonants, sultan of sentences, master of meaningfulness, Allah of alliteration? This man whose brain must resemble a carnival of fractals, a manic maelstrom of magical dreams? This old hippie whose thoughts and visions are more powerful than a nuclear bomb in a cocktail glass? Imagine Tage Danielsson on acid, high as a house, flowing from an oil lamp; that's Tom Robbins for you. What do you say to such a man? Is there anything else to do than to throw yourself flat on the ground and kiss his toes (probably in a pair of worn and muddy sandals)? How could I explain what his books have meant to me, in a way that doesn't sound like the Swedish chef in the Muppets? I give up the idea of a fan letter ¿ once again ¿ and try to describe instead my thoughts about Tom Robbins book, "Still Life With Woodpecker" which I just finished reading a few hours ago. Brief background: Tom Robbins is almost completely unknown in Sweden, but has written 10 books since 1971 (he was born in the 30's, so if I do not get my thumb out and write that fan letter soon I'll have to go on a pilgrimage barefoot to his grave, as the wretched sinner I am (it would certainly be more appropriate to go on that pilgrimage bare skinned. I'll have to think about it.)). His most famous book is "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" which was filmed in 1993 by Gus van Sant, with Uma Thurman in the lead role. I borrowed the book "Jitterbug Perfume" from a boyfriend many many years ago (I just realized that I completely forgot to return it, sorry J!) and was completely enchanted. I was young and had to look up at least ten words on each page: Robbins' English contains words from all corners of the wordworld and often has a double-entendre: it's equilibrism on a high level, like when a clown stumbles forward at a furious pace on a tightrope: one must be very skilled to make it seem so easy. Then I read it again and again, about every five years, five times. Finally, someone asked if I could recommend any of his other books. His other books? It hadn't occurred to me to read them. What if they were not as good? What if they did not include the moon, beets, steamy sex, genius waitresses, indigo and eternal life? Finally, I came to my senses and read "Even Cowgirls ..." (which was so-so) and "Skinny Legs and All" (which is fantastic) and now "Still Life with Woodpecker", written in 1980, four years before JP. It's about ... uh ... It's about ... uhm ... oohm ah ouumm ... It's about how to make love stay. And about how to survive inside a pyramid when it explodes (in a pack of cigarettes). It contains some practical, simple recipes for homemade bombs. It's about contraception, about slippery sex between redheads, the moon's influence on the revolution and the necessity of lawlessness. It is a love story and a breakneck adventure, as usual when Robbins takes the pen (or in this case, his electric typewriter). The main character is, as often, a woman, and sometimes it's hard to believe that Tom Robbins is a man. "Still Life with Woodpecker" was not as good as "Jitterbug Perfume", almost as good as "Skinny Legs and All", and absolutely wonderful. English Wikipedia has this to say about Tom Robbins: "His bestselling novels are often wildly poetic stories with a strong social and philosophical undercurrent, an irreverent bent, and scenes extrapolated from carefully researched bizarre facts." And if you're not on your way, head over heels, at this very moment, to steal, borrow or buy his books, I really don't know what more to say. (Again, in Swedish:)Tusen gånger har jag tänkt att jag ska skriva till min absoluta favoritförf
craigim on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My dad had a copy of this book when it first came out in paperback and I was bout 9 years old. I remember reading the description on the back, about the book taking "place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes." and was intrigued, but a bit young for the subject matter. I finally got around to reading it 25 years later, and wasn't disappointed. I typically like my fiction either science or really quirky. SLWW has a touch of sf and a lot of fun quirk (and plenty of shout-outs to my native Seattle).
martyr13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another phenomenal effort from Mr. Robbins. This is actually the first one I read on my way to reading them all. Tom Robbin's books are not for everyone, but for the people who love his writings he has brought some magic, mystery, and fun into our worlds.
klmccauliff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very well written but a little too fantasy fiction for my tastes.
hlselz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was MAD crazy. It is a crazy love story that talks about cigerettes and the problems with red heads. It is weird, and out there, but very funny and good.
heidialice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A sweet, lyrical love story about an unconventional duo: a princess and an outlaw.As a redhead, I have a fondness for this that is probably unwarranted. There is a time, a place and a mood for Tom Robbins, and this one is quick and not too deep.