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Robbins Celebrates the Outlaw

By Craig K. Comstock

Review of Still Life of with Woodpecker, a novel by Tom Robbins, published in the Oakland Tribune

 If you can imagine a writer who seems to have been fathered by Harpo Marx and to have spirited a typewriter away from Carlos Casteneda ("its keys living mushrooms, its ribbon the long iridescent tongue of a lizard") and who pecks out a contemporary fairy tale starring a moon-struck anarchist (a.k.a. Woodpecker) and his lover (a princess in exile who begins as a fan of Ralph Nader and is converted to cartoon romanticism); yes, and if the locations included Maui, a Puget Sound attic, the sands of Araby and a couple of packs of Camels, and the fantasy and tomfoolery ran as prickly, rampant and stickily luscious as blackberries, and anxious readers are assured again and again that social concern is for "androids" and they’re right to cultivate their own gardens, especially the trippy botanicals, well then you would know why Cody’s bookstore in Berkeley has taken delivery of a thousand copies of Still Life With Woodpeckerand stacked them handily by the door...


Who without the soul of a certified public grouch can resist the antic sweetness of Tom Robbins?

You may disagree, as I do, with his not infrequent sermonettes about the virtues of privatism but find delight nonetheless in his playful meditations, the vivacity of his metaphor, his urge to re-enchant the world and his concern for the peculiar institution known, uneasily, as love...

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