Brian's Reviews > Still Life with Woodpecker

Still Life with  Woodpecker by Tom Robbins
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's review
Jan 05, 2011

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Read in September, 2006

9/24/2006 - 6/10

Still Life with Woodpecker is a pretty strange book. It uses off the wall snippets in short chapters to tell a somewhat disjoint but humorous narrative. It reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut's writing style. Robbins uses some vivid descriptions, ideas and conjectures. They are a bit hit or miss though as some go into boring rat-holes. The story itself has a fairy tale-ish feel to it. It's also a bit juvenile with over the top and shallow romance and sex scenes. The plot is not at all cohesive in tying all the ideas together and is rather silly.

Some quotes:
'Once, princess Leigh-Cheri used a papal candlestick for the purpose of self-gratification. She had hoped that at the appropriate moment, she might be visited by either the Lamb or the Beast, but, as usual, only Ralph Nader attended her.'p 8
'Max's heart made a sound like the sleigh bells on Mrs. Santa Claus's dildo.' p. 18
'If by the last quarter of the twentieth century godliness wasn't next to something a little more interesting than cleanliness, it might be time to reevaluate our notions of godliness. ' p. 21
'Tequila, scorpion honey, harsh dew of the doglands, essence of Aztec, crema de cacti; tequila, oily and thermal like the sun in solution; tequila, liquid geometry of passion; tequila, the buzzard god who copulates in midair with the ascending souls of dying virgins; tequila, firebug in the house of good taste; O tequila, savage water of sorcery, what confusion and mischief your sly, rebellious drops do generate!' p 50
'When we're incomplete, we're always searching for somebody to complete us. When, after a few years or a few months of a relationship, we find that we're still unfulfilled, we blame our partners and take up with somebody more promising. This can go on and on--series polygamy--until we admit that while a partner can add sweet dimensions to our lives, we, each of us, are responsible for our own fulfillment. Nobody else can provide it for us, and to believe otherwise is to delude ourselves dangerously and to program for eventual failure every relationship we enter.' p 157
'Three of the four elements are shared by all creatures, but fire was a gift to humans alone. Smoking cigarettes is as intimate as we can become with fire without immediate excruciation. Every smoker is an embodiment of Prometheus, stealing fire from the gods and bringing it on back home. We smoke to capture the power of the sun, to pacify Hell, to identify with the primordial spark, to feed on the marrow of the volcano. It's not the tobacco we're after but the fire. When we smoke, we are performing a version of the fire dance, a ritual as ancient as lightning.
Does that mean that chain smokers are religious fanatics? You must admit there's a similarity.
The lung of the smoker is a naked virgin thrown as a sacrifice into the godfire.' p 161
'The Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls have been looked at so much that they've become effete, sucked empty by too many stupid eyes.' p.222

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