Still Life with Woodpecker

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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.

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Still Life with Woodpecker

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Overview

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.

One of Robbins most popular novels, this is a sort of 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, and paints a portrait of contemporary society that includes powerful Arabs, exiled royalty, and pregnant cheerleaders. It also deals with the problem of redheads.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Robbins’s comic philosophical musings reveal a flamboyant genius.—People
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553245691
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback

Meet the Author

Tom Robbins
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.

Biography

So much mythology swirls around Pacific Northwest novelist Tom Robbins that sorting fact from fiction is a daunting challenge. Born Thomas Eugene Robbins in 1936 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, he was raised from age 11 on in a suburb near Richmond, Virginia. He attended Washington and Lee University but did not graduate. Instead, he quit college and spent a year hitchhiking, settling for a while in New York City.

Robbins enlisted in the Air Force in 1957, just one step ahead of the draft, and served three years in Korea. Upon discharge, he moved back to Virginia to attend art school at Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University), graduating in 1961. During this time he worked as a copy editor for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

According to Robbins, the South's hidebound racism -- perfectly mirrored in the newspaper's policy -- prompted him to move as far away from Richmond as possible "while still remaining in the continental United States." He ended up in Seattle in the early 1960s, enrolled in the University of Washington to pursue his Masters, and went to work for the Seattle Times. If we are to believe the story, it was around this time that he first sampled LSD (not yet an illegal substance). Blown away by the experience, he chucked both grad school and his job at the paper and spent the rest of the decade bouncing between the East and West Coasts -- writing, working as a DJ in alternative radio, and partaking liberally of the countercultural smorgasbord of the day.

Towards the end of the '60s, Robbins began working seriously at his writing, culminating in 1971 with the publication of his first novel, the comic absurdist tale Another Roadside Attraction. A failure in hardcover, it nevertheless sold well as a paperback, prompting publishers to release his next book -- 1976's Even Cowgirls Get the Blues -- in both formats simultaneously. Although he has not been a hit with most mainstream critics, Robbins has achieved rarified cult status with successive generations of 20-somethings who adore his goofy, upbeat satirical fiction. He claims to never read reviews but is pleased to have enjoyed a steady string of bestsellers starting with Still Life with Woodpecker in 1980. In 2005, he produced Wild Ducks Flying Backward, a volume of shorter works, including poems, stories, essays, articles, and reviews.

Rumor has it that Robbins polishes each sentence to perfection before moving on to the next. Whether or not that's true, he does admit to being a slow writer -- and to needing a long period of rest and recuperation (usually involving travel to some exotic place) in between books. All of which explains why his output is surprisingly slender, especially for a writer who inspires such passionate, fanatical devotion!

Good To Know

Here are some fun facts (and perhaps some fun fiction, as well!) about Tom Robbins:

  • An accomplished artist, Robbins is one of only a handful of writers to have cover design built into their book contracts.
  • When Elvis Presley died of an overdose in his bathroom on August 16, 1977, there was rumored to be a copy of Another Roadside Attraction on the floor beside him.
  • While working as a journalist and DJ in Washington state, Robbins attended a 1967 Doors concert in Seattle. He claims that the origins of his unique writing style can be found in that piece.
  • Robbins has enjoyed friendships with a group of widely people, from '60s countercultural icons like Alan Ginsberg and Timothy Leary to mythologist Joseph Campbell (with whom he once traveled to South America.
  • Robbins has appeared in several films, including Made in Heaven, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Breakfast of Champions, and Gus Van Sant's 1993 adaptation of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.
  • Read More Show Less
      1. Hometown:
        LaConner, Washington
      1. Date of Birth:
        July 22, 1936
      2. 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.

    Read More Show Less

    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4.5
    ( 155 )
    Rating Distribution

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    (106)

    4 Star

    (28)

    3 Star

    (13)

    2 Star

    (2)

    1 Star

    (6)

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 156 Customer Reviews
    • Posted November 15, 2010

      A book where an outlaw is the hero

      "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.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted August 15, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      LOVE

      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.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted December 4, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      If you're feeling a bit down on love,

      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.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 16, 2014

      Ocelotkit

      (God what would rosekit say? --

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 10, 2014

      Ethan

      Smiles hey rose

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 1, 2014

      Spotfang

      "What happened!" He demanded.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 29, 2013

      Marceline

      I wish you were here

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 29, 2013

      Tommmy

      Mhm

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 26, 2013

      Trent im at narf res ten

      If u care u would come

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 26, 2013

      Thorn

      She sighed and walked to the bar not knowing what to do.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 26, 2013

      Sam

      Drive her truck and has bulletproof on with a beer in her hand. The music blasts thru her speakers

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 19, 2013

      &#0002

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 9, 2013

      Lilystripe

      Saddens at his name then shakes her head "Yea. I won't tell anyone." She says

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 16, 2014

      Loki

      Gtgtb bbt

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 19, 2013

      Poppybreeze

      Pads in

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 19, 2013

      Revenge

      Revenge hared in. "Myntlight, I was only kidding." He whispered hoarsely and he curled around her gently.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 9, 2013

      Darkwing

      She sits coverring her ears

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 9, 2013

      Ripplepaw

      "Is something wrong?" She asked, notising her slight change in mood.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 19, 2013

      SandStorm

      It ok

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 8, 2013

      Echo

      Hunts for a while

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