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Skinny Legs and All Paperback – November 1, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a phantasmagorical, politically charged tale you wish would never end, Robbins holds forth--through a variety of ingenious, off-beat mouthpieces--on art (with and without caps), the Middle East, religious fanaticism of many stripes, and the seven veils of self-deception. Salome, skinny legs and all, belly-dances rapturously at Isaac & Ishmael's, a much-molested restaurant located across the street from the U.N., founded by an Arab and a Jew as an example of happy, peaceful and mutually beneficial coexistence. Ellen Cherry Charles, artist and waitress, heir to the most positive legacy of Jezebel, works at the same joint, nursing a broken heart inflicted by Boomer Petway, redneck welder/bemused darling of the New York art scene. Meanwhile, Can o' Beans, Dirty Sock, Spoon, Painted Stick and Conch Shell traverse half the world on a hejira to Jerusalem--where Conch and Painted Stick will resume religious duties in the Third Temple, dedicated (of course) to Astarte. Unless, mind you, Ellen Cherry's boil-encrusted uncle Buddy, a radio evangelist who gets turned on by Tammy Faye Bakker, manages to start WW III first. . . . Robbins's ( Jitterbug Perfume ) lust for laughs is undiminished; this prescription for sanity couldn't be better. 125,000 first printing; first serial to Esquire; BOMC and QPB selections; author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A painter's struggle with her art, a restaurant opened as an experiment in brotherhood, the journey of several inanimate objects to Jerusalem, a preacher's scheme to hasten Armageddon, and a performance of a legendary dance: these are the diverse elements around which Robbins has built this wild, controversial novel. Ellen Cherry Charles, one of the "Daughters of the Daily Spe cial" in Jitterbug Perfume ( LJ 1/85), takes center stage. She has married Boomer Petway and moved to New York, hoping to make it as a painter. Instead, she winds up a waitress at the Isaac and Ishmael, a restaurant co-owned by an Arab and a Jew. Robbins's primary concern is Middle Eastern politics, supplemented along the way with observations on art, religion, sex, and money. Few contemporary novelists mix tomfoolery and philosophy so well. This is Robbins at his best. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/90.
- Lawrence Rungren, Bedford Free P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (November 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553377884
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553377880
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Mike Stone on May 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
One of my biggest post-literate mistakes was choosing "Skinny Legs and All" as my first attempt at a Tom Robbins book. It was a big mistake because, for that first pass, I didn't make it past page fifty. And spent the next two years avoiding Tom's oeuvre, for fear of reliving that first awkward experience. Hindsight tells me that those two years could have been spent in an enlightened, blissful state if I'd started my Robbins journey elsewhere. When I tried "Skinny Legs" again, after 'getting' the Robbins of "Another Roadside Attraction" and "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" and "Jitterbug Perfume", I was astounded at the magnitude of its greatness. And more than a bit embarrassed that I passed off its hyper-creativity as just strangeness for strangeness' sake.
The strangeness I speak of, which rears its ugly (nay, sublime) head before page fifty, concerns an Airstream welded to look like a giant roast turkey, and sentient dialogues between a spoon, a dirty sock, and a Can o' Beans (and later, a mystical Conch Shell and a magical Painted Stick; ancient objects with an enormous task ahead of them). Hmm. A first time Tommer can be expected to run screaming from images like that, skeptical that they can be made credible. But the seasoned pro knows that Tom has something exciting up his sleeve. And can't wait to find out what it is.
"Skinny Legs" follows the 'exciting' adventures of Ellen Cherry Charles, erstwhile artist and sometimes waitress, and her newlywed husband Boomer Petway, creator of said turkeymobile. Their plan is to drive from Virginia, which is too conservative to cultivate Ellen's artistic and sexual passions, to New York City. The goal is to find fame and fortune in the art community. Which they do, but not in the expected way.
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 9, 1997
Format: Paperback
Tom Robbins takes creative writing to the spiritual. He is themad shaman of the sentence. If you give a damn about color, love,touching, art, the creative process, if you are aware enough to feel the echoes from a time long past when the earth was sacred, when men knew more about female anatomy than harddrives and batting averages, when stars meant something, if you've ever faced the blank, virgin canvas and found out who you were or weren't, if you've ever felt like an alien on Superbowl Sunday then
'Skinny Legs & All' will profoundly move you. It might even change your life. At very least, Tom Robbins will ruin reading for you -- suddenly everything else seems like soggy iceburg lettuce. 'Skinny Legs & All' is the best novel I've ever read. It costs less than a stupid pizza, do yourself a favor.

ps I also HIGHLY recommend 'Jitterbug Perfume' (I have to say this because it's the most beautiful book I've ever read and I noticed that someone here gave it a negative recommendation and I just can't keep my mouth shut when I hear someone proclaim the earth to be flat)
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By JP on September 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the first Tom Robbins novel I've read, and it was an incredible pleasure from cover to cover. Reviewing a Robbins novel is not so easy though. A simple plot summary surely doesn't suffice. Let me start by saying that it's a vastly entertaining book, and really quite profound. Robbins expounds--through his diverse and bizarre characters--on many topics, particularly organized religion and the middle east (inseparable, when you think about it). He's clearly no great fan of organized religion, and treats the middle east with the complexity and nuance it so surely deserves. It's also a very feminist novel (in my opinion), with multiple strong female characters, and a very purposeful attempt to show the patriarchal origins and underpinnings of the three major mono-theistic religions.
Still, the greatest pleasure of this novel is the spectacular wordplay and turns-of-phrase. Robbins prose is wonderfully creative and elegant, and though some readers may find the constant similes and metaphors to be gratuitous, I did not. Every line seems so carefully crafted -- there is not a single throw-away word. On many occasions (too many to count), I found myself saying "I really should write this down." If that happens to me a half dozen times in a book, I would consider it a good read. But 25-30 times?? Remarkable.
I don't want to give the impression that this is a preachy or obtrusively political book -- it isn't. It is laugh-out-loud funny and extremely entertaining. But there certainly are multiple layers, and I think it is bound to connect with a reader on at least one, if not many different levels. Overall, just a fantastic read. I highly recommend it!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Laura Shill on November 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
Here's another Tom Robbins' novel that I really shouldn't read in public. I lose all awareness of my surroundings as my brain tries to wrap its slippery gray hands around this plot. I am lost somewhere deep in this outlandish and intricate, but somehow fully believable story. I would make a great purse-snatching target. And every time I burst into a fit of laughter, I can feel the stares of people who probably think I'm a Bellevue escapee. Then I think about the main character Ellen Cherry Charles and her struggle against artistic conformity. Right on! I cackle away in spite of my disapproving peers who probably only wish they were reading this book. The story begins with two newlyweds cruising west in a 20-foot Airstream turkey and ends with the reunion of a girl and her favorite spoon. It's easy to forget that some of the central themes of this novel are so serious, like the inevitable violence of contradicting but uncompromising beliefs, or the role of the artist in society, or the portrayal of women in the Bible to name a few. But through Robbins' characters- ranging from an overzealous Southern Baptist preacher, to a mysterious16-year-old belly dancer, to a philosophical can of beans- he exposes a government plot to set the ball rolling on the rapture, manages to explain with surprising clarity the violent history of the Middle East and vindicates Jezebel and Salome. Through these seemingly unrelated characters and their equally unrelated settings, Robbins sews a unifying thread that reminds readers that like it or not, we're all connected in some way. But for some reason I'm still laughing. Maybe it's because in this novel inanimate objects have consciousness and Ellen Cherry's vibrator speaks to the inhabitants of her panty drawer in a Japanese accent.Read more ›
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