From the back cover: “Still Life with Woodpecker is a sort of a love story that takes place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes.”
Why wouldn’t you want to read about that?
So this book, much like all of Robbins’ work, is about forty different things all at once. To strip it down to the basics: the plot revolves around Princess Leigh-Cheri – an extremely sexually charged redheaded former princess who also happens to be an environmentalist. On a trip to Hawaii for the Care Fest – basically an environmental convention, she is chaperoned by her non-English speaking maid, Gulietta, and meets Bernard Mickey Wrangle on the airplane. Bernard has plans to blow up the Care Fest with a stack of dynamite he has strapped to his chest. They meet again after Bernard accidentally blows up a UFO conference instead of the Care Fest, and through a bottle of tequila they fall for one another. On returning to Seattle, Bernard is arrested for his past transgressions, and Princess Leigh-Cheri longs for him. She finds out what his cell looks like and decorates the attic of her home to match (black, one small window, a cot). All she has to entertain her is a pack of Camel cigarettes in which she fabricates a tale of great proportion (this tale involves you just reading the book because WAY too many things take place in it for me to even try to connect all the comparisons… basically it involves redheads, pyramids, the moon, the word CHOICE, etc.)
People begin to copy Leigh-Cheri’s isolation and see it as a fad. Bernard becomes disgusted with it and sends her a letter that ends their love affair. Heart broken, Leigh-Cheri leaves the attic and becomes engaged to a rich Arab suitor.
Then lots of things happen… including the building of a giant pyramid, a diet of wedding cake and champagne, more bombing, and a hospital.
I think I’ve said this before, Tom Robbins is one of those guys that you can either really dig, or he isn’t. I think I’m still on the fence… which is weird because I now own almost every one of his books. He just has this way of making you love his writing style, and hate the long windedness at the exact same time. He can take something so small and blow it up into this crazy cool idea, but then you are like “What in the hell kind of drugs is this guy taking?” He is an anomaly in my reading repertoire for the main fact that I don’t know if I actually love him.
But there is something there, otherwise I wouldn’t waste my time reading his books. Obviously.
All in all, I liked Still Life With Woodpecker. I really wish Tom Robbins would never refer to the female genitalia as a “peachfish” ever again though. It really grosses me out.
On to reading!