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Still Life with Woodpecker Paperback – April 1, 1990

314 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Robbins’s comic philosophical musings reveal a flamboyant genius.—People

From the Inside Flap

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 277 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reissue edition (April 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553348973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553348972
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (314 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

151 of 162 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
A friend of mine gave me this book years ago (it seems to be one of those books that friends give to people) and while it didn't exactly change my life there and then, it cheered me up no end. I've tried and failed to read some of Robbins' other books - perhaps this once is unusually tight and brilliant, although it's still (as somebody says below) a "ride to the moon on a winebottle". The bomb recipes and the analysis of the iconography of the Camel packet are almost as good as the sex scenes, and Robbins writes extremely well about how good sex can be. (Glad to see that women seem to agree about this.) It was out of print in the UK for a long time, and whenever I found a secondhand copy I'd buy it and give to people I thought needed it. I haven't read it in a long time, but I'd recommend it as a perfect gift for a maiden aunt, a depressed teenager or anybody whose talent for happiness hasn't been exercised lately. There are books out there that exercise the higher centres of the brain more than this one, but fewer books are so mollifying to the glands.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Richards HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 5, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a light and entertaining book from a word-play genius. What is amazing is the way he weaves so many stories into a tidy, compact little package - almost the size of a pack of cigarettes, as a matter of fact.
This is a story about a tarnished princess, an outlaw bomber with bad teeth, a scene stealing if somewhat undomesticated loyal servant, toads - both real and plastic, an exiled King and his "Oh-Oh, spaghetti-o" Queen, a CIA not-so-secret agent, an outraged Middle Eastern playboy, blackberries, Camels, Ralph Nader, pyramids and aliens from Argon.
What more could you possibly want in a book?
Tom Robbins has a genuine talent for words and puns, and those with active funny bones will be tickled throughout. His casual use of words like "slishy" and phrases like "I have a black belt in haiku" abound, to be discovered with unbridled delight.
This is a book to be enjoyed within one lunar cycle without fear of repercussions.
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Cristina Psomadakis on April 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Initially a fan of such classics as "Anna Karenina" and "Brothers Karamazov" I expanded my literary horizon to unthinkable boundaries after Tom Robbins' "Still Life With Woodpecker" fell into my hands. Robbins' insight on human behavior on both a social and intimate level along with satyrical humor and an outrageous plot make for a perfect blend. Robbins tells the story of a red-haired princess who falls for a rebelious bomber and their effort of "making love stay." The story line ranges from bizzare Argon aliens vacationing in Hawaii to Emirate sheiks building commercialist pyramids. Robbins' vivid imagination and outrageous similes paint a classic love tale in a crazy psychedelic picture. His original diction, and odd "interludes" create a truly authentic book, which makes for an enjoyable read and a crazy ride into a hyperbole of our time.
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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Joseph C. Landers on January 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
Tom Robbins is a genius. I have read all of his novels. This is definetly one of my favorites. Still Life With Woodpecker explores everyones need for love. It defines how we see ourselves and each other. It dares to tell us, in an off the wall story line, how we love one another and always for the wrong reasons. The plot to this book is unpredictable to say it best, although Tom Robbins writes in a very unique way. You will either love his style or not be able to read twenty pages without remembering high school "literary works of art". I personally read this book in about 5 hours. I picked it up and the world ceased to exist. This is one of those books you can get lost in, and you begin to realize why you love to read, which to me is to escape the boring reality of the real world. In books people are who they are and do what they say. I also recommend Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins. This is my favorite out of all of them. If you are looking for an author similar to Robbins, the closest I have found is Richard Grant, I recommend Tex and Molly in the Afterlife. Enjoy Tom Robbins, you'll never quite read anything like him ever again.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful By David J. Gannon on February 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
A friend of mine who knows I am a big Tom Robbins fan asked me to appear before her Reading Group to discuss another Robbins novel and I was asked to describe Robbins body of work. I said that Robbins collected works were sort of like a family of 12 where all the kids had one parent, say the mother, in common but all of whom had different fathers, and all of whom were raised in different religions. In a sense everybody's all together yet they are all over the place.
Robbins reminds me of Jonathan Lethem--a world-class author with a visionary imagination, a densely intellectual approach to writing, and a skewed worldview of epic proportions. Still Life is in reality pretty much an "average" Robbins novel, but that is in fact sort of like saying that the Hope Diamond is your "average" 80-carat diamond.
What sets Still Life apart for me is that, though written many years ago, it's totally contemporary. Ralph Nader is a major minor character--and what you see here about him is as relevant as it was when the book was written. The Woodpecker is essentially a professional bomber--but is he merely a criminal (terrorist?)or an outlaw (freedom fighter?)? There are Arabs as major characters--all in a state of internecine hostility. And the symbolic hooey--and there's plenty of it here--is as New Age as New Age gets, even though it predates New Age by an eon.
I'd read the book years ago and recently reread it and found it as engaging, thought provoking and quirkily amusing as ever. It's not many novels that can be a contemporary masterpiece of different decades. So, though there are better Robbins books out there, I definitely think Still Life with Woodpecker is a "must read" even today.
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