STILL LIFE WITH WOODPECKER by Tom Robbins

STILL LIFE WITH WOODPECKER

KIRKUS REVIEW

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976) had enough liberation-chic amid the pop gyrations to win Robbins a cultish following--and he'll certainly need a preconditioned audience for this even less substantial concoction. It's the love-story/ fairy-tale of Princess Leigh-Cheri Furstenberg-Barcalona, daughter of an exiled royal South American family living in Seattle--who, on a trip to Hawaii to attend a "Geo-Therapy Care Fest," meets and is swept off her feet by Bernard Mickey Wrangle a.k.a. "The Woodpecker," an outlaw political bomber given to eating Hostess Twinkies, saying "Yum" constantly, and philosophizing about outlaws, the moon, pyramids, and the profundity stored in the Camels cigarette package. When their ecstatic love is interrupted by The Woodpecker's temporary jailing (dynamite remains his hobby; he wears gunpowder T-shirts), Leigh-Cheri languishes, finally agreeing to marry an importunate Arab playboy if he'll promise to build for her a modern pyramid. But--enter The Woodpecker again; he and Leigh-Cheri are sealed within the pyramid by the jealous Arab; and, ultimately, it's dynamite once more to the rescue. Robbins lays all this down in three basic kinds of writing: plain cute, wise cute, and abstract cute. Plain: "Their underwear just lay there, gathering dust, like ghost towns abandoned when the nylon mines petered out." Wise cute: "Without the essential (inanimate) insanity, humor becomes inoffensive and therefore pap, poetry becomes exoteric and therefore prose, eroticism becomes mechanical and therefore pornography. . . ." Abstract cute: "Surface incident sets up internal relationships, and internal relationships break down the external gestalt, the publicness." Several writers do this sort of Zen shtick much better--e.g., Pierre Delattre's Walking On Air (p. 381)--and Robbins' sermons here (which sound strangely like those of a buzzed Arthur Godfrey) often are downright embarrassing. For diehard Robbins fans only, then (a largely paperback-oriented crowd); others will find it insufferable.
Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1990
ISBN: 0553348973
Page count: 268pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1980




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