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Skinny Legs and All

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  39,354 ratings  ·  1,348 reviews
This is a gutsy, fun-loving, and provocative novel in which a bean can philosophises, a dessert spoon mystifies, a young waitress takes on the New York art world, and a rowdy redneck welder discovers the lost god of Palestine.
Paperback, 422 pages
Published March 10th 2002 by No Exit Press (first published 1990)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  39,354 ratings  ·  1,348 reviews

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Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't think of any other book I've read very recently that left my mind as thoroughly blown as Skinny Legs and All. I'd only read one other Tom Robbins book -- Still Life With Woodpecker -- so I was prepared for his playfulness, humor, intricate (but goofy) language, and overall trippy feel that all come with just about everything he rights.

But I was not prepared for Skinny Legs. This book is so dense with literary magnificence that you could chew it like you had a whole mouth full of sticky
Jul 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: american
I should start by saying that I'm not a fan of Tom Robbins' novels. I don't dislike his work, but you will not find me among the legions of his fans. I just need to get that out of the way before I begin...

However, I have enjoyed reading two of his books. I almost put down Still Life With Woodpecker, but because of my admiration for the person who recommended it to me, I made it through. I feel much the same way about this novel. In fact, I did put Skinny Legs down for about six months, but
Jul 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book at least three times. Tom Robbins is one of my favorie authors, and this was his only novel I hadn't read. However, each of the times I started it I found myself becoming very disappointed. At the beginning it was too weird, or trying to be too cute, even for Tom Robbins. Ellen Cherry and Boomer driving across country in a turkey. A talking and walking spoon, dirty sock and can of beans. It was too much. I couldn't take it seriously. He was trying to be too 'Tom Robbins like' ...more
Trying to talk about Tom Robbins to someone who's never read him is nigh on imfuckingpossible. It's even more difficult if you're trying to convince someone who's already decided he/she DOESN'T LIKE him.

This is one of my favourite books ever, I've read it more times than I can count, and yet...

I still have a hard time explaining exactly WHY I want people to read this book.

I mean, I get it. Robbins is pretentious as fuck and his writing is what my husband refers to as masturbatory (yes, I read
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is a delightfully messy, trippy, optimistic, big-hearted whirlwind. A hurricane that has ripped through the 1960s and '70s and '80s in America, picking up hillbillies and flower children and Arabs and Jews and artists and Biblical characters who serve as fodder for our fantasies. And don't forget a Can o' Beans, Dirty Sock, Spoon, Painted Stick and Conch Shell. The overused phrase of praise Tour de Force actually applies here. And then some.

This is my personal favorite Tom Robbins
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, fiction
Even though I grew a bit tired of this towards the last 100 pages, the fact that half of the main characters were objects like a spoon, a sock, a can of beans, a vibrator, and a stick, and it didn’t annoy the shit out of me = 3.5 rounded up.
Mar 19, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
this book's jacket description : this book :: funny movie trailer : movie that shot its wad in the trailer

The premise sounds wild and funny and makes you wonder, briefly, how he could pull it off. And then he doesn't.
Aug 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I've ever read! Robbins keeps me on my toes with his vocabulary and uses unique characters to provide interesting perspectives on cultural clashes and life in general. I love this guy!
Oct 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Sean Ferguson
Recommended to Leah by: Viluna Jennings
Shelves: favorites
I've heard about how good Tom Robbins is for quite a long time, and finally picked up one of his novels at the insistence of a friend. I'm so glad I did. Skinny Legs and All is now officially making it onto my "best reads of '09" list (yes, I do actually keep lists).

I'm not sure where to begin with this one... the book is funny, controversial, and relevant. It can be confusing, but it's the sort of thing the reader has to let slide. I speak from experience when I say that if you accept the
Jun 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pilgrims and frustrated artists; also: foot-fetishists
Shelves: own
A passage:

"You are an artist. You know that big picture at the museum midtown, that picture by that fellow Rousseau, it is called The Sleeping Gypsy?"

"Yeah. Sure. That's a very famous painting."

"It ought to be called The Sleeping Arab, that picture. An Arab lies in the desert, sleeping under the crazy-faced moon. A lion sniffs at the Arab, the Arab is unafraid..."

See the painting...

I find this to be one of Robbins' better works. By "better" here I mean "more mature" and "fully realized". Which
Sep 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Although I have determined that it is impossible for me to pick a favorite Tom Robbins novel, this one is strong in the running.

Ellen Cherry Charles isn't my favorite Robbins woman, but in many ways, she is his most sympathetic female protagonist. Caught between her art, her stupid husband, and her hypocritical uncle, she made me want to jump into the pages and help her straighten everything out.

As with all his other novels, as I read it, I feel that he's got it right, that almost everyone else
Sep 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: smart, progressive types with a sense of humor
Tom Robbins is a genius. His use of the English language is so playful and dangerously intelligent that I can't belive he isn't a bigger literary celebrity.

Skinny Legs and All delves into all of life's big issues: religion, politics, love, war, money and so on, though it has a light touch; main characters include a Can 'o Beans and a Dirty Sock, for example. Seven fundamental truths are revealed as a modern day belly dancer named Salome dances The Dance of the Seven Veils - a veil drops, and a
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
****First off..forget Formatting...this one is Free Form, all the way***

5 Stars: This book held my interest for over a month (I'm a slow reader, okay!) Gravity's Rainbow it's about Everything..and No One Thing, and it's never boring...Then there's the Wordplay..the lovely English language the most versatile of toys. Mr Robbins spins that top for all it's his hands it's worth a lot. Zany, crazy, surreal..the gang's all here, with pathos and sincerity in tow.

Art, and its carry-on
Jan 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Jill Z.
I believe this novel was so enjoyable because of its lighthearted mix of the absurd, the everyday, the magical, and the sexual. I consider those the four food groups of fun literature, and they each find a home in this ridiculous tale of self-awakening and revelations of truth. Robbins asserts that patriarchal society has blinded us to a heritage that recognizes and rejoices its feminine deities that embrace expressions of sexuality and the magic of nature. Blinded by “seven veils” of untruth in ...more
Frank Roberts
Jun 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People recovering from head trauma; autistic children
Shelves: books-to-burn
This tainted slab of ham turned out to be a massive milestone in my life of reading stuff. It marked the moment when I decided that a book DID NOT need to be finished once it was started. A wildly masturbatory author, Robbins lays metaphors on everything in triplicate and quadruplicate, spilling similes all over the place like a chimp splatters semen, like a bubbling fountain of tangy fondue cheese, like hand cream pumped from a bellows, like an elephant stomping on a sack of silly putty...

Laura Harcourt
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ben Babcock
I’m very ambivalent about this book. Skinny Legs and All is a dense, intricate spiral of a story with funny characters but serious messages. However, Tom Robbins’ style grates on me a little bit. There’s nothing egregious about it, but maybe I’m just getting less patient with purpler prose as I approach the ripe old age of 26. In any event, I appreciate and respect this book, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

Skinny Legs and All follows Ellen Cherry Charles, a small-town Virginian
Feb 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: eccentrics
I am a Tom Robbins fan, but I was a little disappointed in this book. Fierce Invalids is still my all-time favorite, closely followed by Jitterbug Perfume. Both are MUST-reads.

My whole theory on how Tom Robbins writes a book:
--step 1: find some random unlikely stuff to be associated-- people, places, things, or topics.
--step 2: weave them together using witty humour, a renegade main character, some sort of historical or theological revelation tied into all random people places or things.

I'm used
Donald Powell
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
it seems impossible to review this book other than to say you should read it. It faithfully explores the human condition, the importance of asking/struggling with the best questions (philosophy), religion, sexuality, art, politics, family and biblical history, employing humor, sarcasm, eroticism, history and other novel devices. The storyline is small, like most of our lives, but huge in impact. He is an incredibly unique author who is a joy to read. I thank my dear friend John for giving me the ...more
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Clever For the Sake of Cleverness (2012)

Robbins, Tom (1990). Skinny Legs and All. New York: Bantam.

This novel is about Tom Robbins, who wants to show you how clever, funny, and sophisticated he is. With respect to that goal, the book succeeds.

However, does he create and motivate interesting characters? No. Does he develop an interesting story? No. Does he elucidate some significant point? No. Does he create a haunting sense of place or time? No. Does he skewer social or political practices with
Oct 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Compared with the usual high standards that I have come to expect from Tom Robbins, this book was a tad disappointing.

There are those books which grab you by the seat of the pants from the first page and don’t let go until you turn that final page, such as John Grisham’s The Testament. There are those books which start off nice and slow, pouring in the literary concrete in the first half to pave the way for the dazzling kapow punch that usually comes in the second half. And there are those books
Nov 27, 2010 rated it liked it
This read a lot like an unfocused, ADD-addled Kurt Vonnegut novel. But the fact that it reminded me of Vonnegut in any way means it's worth a read, if nothing else. The wacky, over-strung cast of characters includes a talking stick, a talking can of beans, and a talking sock. Oh, there are people there too. Kind of.
Robbins' prose is evocative, full of similes and ripe description that sometimes means something. Everything kept happening and little of it meant much to me. The revelations come out
I enjoyed this book, and the story was quite satisfying. But Robbins hackneyed digressions and similes turned me off. I found my eyes glazing over the words or simply skipping paragraphs. I felt that Ellen was a clearly drawn character but the others like Boomer or Spike or even Buddy didn't quite seem as clear. Hopefully the next Robbins book I read will be more satisfying.
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those about to rock (i would also salute you).
his best book, in my opinion. spiritually themed, richly philosophical, a little dirty and not afraid to be silly. robbins' language is reliably lush and off-beat. oh, and i loved the commentary about art and art scenes.
Jul 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tom-robbins
I read this a long time ago but it still plays with my head now. After that I got caught up in Robbins' books. Then, well, other books came in and I lost my way. Must get back and read more. Maybe Can of Soup, Stick, Spoon, and Dirty Sock will welcome me back. How I miss them!
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
I want an eighth veil -- revealing the illusion that the dropping of veils of illusion leads to "enlightenment."
Meredith Holley
Oct 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Meredith by: Mr. Alves
I read this in high school, and I'm not sure if I would like it better now, or hate it now.
Nick Mesha
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was fascinating from many perspectives. To write a real book report, I would need to dig into history to fact check a lot of the claims Robbins makes here, although, I expect much of what he said here is true. What I did do is transcribe my favorite passages throughout, which I've included below.

What the book does best is make you think about world religion, and how females have been portrayed throughout history, and what exactly we are doing here with this God stuff.

The first half of
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've been wanting to read Robbins for years. Glad I finally got around to it. The humor and mesmorizing metaphorical mash-ups make for one marvelously wild ride. It's all good stuff and while we hear the same from Vonnegut and others - it's too good of a message, delivered in such a perfect way that it demands being told again and again.
Jeremi Doucet
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Legendary, one of the best books I’ve ever read.
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Thomas Eugene Robbins (born July 22, 1936 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina) is an American author. His novels are complex, often wild stories with strong social undercurrents, a satirical bent, and obscure details. His novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976) was made into a movie in 1993 directed by Gus Van Sant.

“Don't trust anybody who'd rather be grammatically correct than have a good time.” 176 likes
“Ellen Cherry was from the south and had good manners. She didn´t have any panties on, but she had good manners.” 116 likes
More quotes…