THIS BOOK is clogged with a lot of Thought. Never forget that, there is plenitude of Thought here, reader. And so much wit-it-ness too, fixed up with a glut of preposterous metaphors, though they often have charm. Robbins is closer in style to Phyllis Diller or even Erma Bombeck (one British critic said Robbins "writes like Dolly Parton looks") than anybody I can think of.
But he certainly knows his history, philosophy, even physics, and has managed to cram every topical item of the last 10 years into the book.
In fact, this work is simply a hilarious treatise. Robbins can be awfully keen with his insights, such as this one:
"Sunday, a wan stiff shadow of robust Saturday. Sunday, the day divorced fathers with 'visitation' rights take their children to the zoo. Sunday, forced leisure for folks who have no aptitude for leisure. Sundsay, when the hangover knows no bounds. Sunday, the day the boyfriend didn't come to the hospital. Sunday, an overfed white cat mewing hymns and farting footballs."
Right good stuff, this.
The largetst treatise of the book, is, well, hear Robbins:
"There is only one serious question. And that is:
Who knows how to make love stay?
Answer me that and I will tell you whether or not to kill yourself.
Answer me that and I will ease your mind about the beginning and the end of time.
Answer me that and I will reveal to you the purpose of the moon."
Still Life With Woodpecker is the love story of Leigh-Cheri and Woodpecker (aka Bernard Micky Wrangle, aka Baby). Leigh-Cheri is of exiled royalty. Here is Her father:
"Since his exile, more than thirty years before, the King had made gambling a career. Poker was his work.
Recently, however, he had had a taste of open-heart surgery. A major valve had been removed and replaced with a Telflon substitute. The artificial valve functioned efficently, but it made a metallic noise as it opened and shut. When he was excited, everyone in the room knew it. Due to the audible sound of his heart, he was no longer able to practice poker, a game with necessary concealments and bluffs. 'Jesus,' he said. "When I draw a good hand, I sound like a Tupperware party.' He spent his hours watching sports on television, pining for the good old days when he could have ordered Howard Cossell to the garrote."
The Robbins sytle is eminently encapsulated here.
Woodpecker (a red-head, as is Leigh-Cheri, and much is made of this) is a dynamiter who began his career bombing a building in Wisconsin during the antiwar movement. Having slain an innocent biochemist who was working on an oral contraceptive for men, he now bombs just for zest, espousing the cause of the "outlaw."
"Yes, and I love the trite mythos of the outlaw. I love the self-conscious romanticism of the outlaw. I love the black wardrobe of the outlaw. I love the fey smile of the outlaw. I love the tequila of the outlaw and the beans of the outlaw . . ."
He wears only black and hurts nothing, really, except property. He and Leigh-Cheri meet aboard a plane bound for the Geo-Therapy Care Fest in Hawaii. Leigh-Cheri is idealist, all gentillesse oblige , etc. He is not.
Henceforward, every act and attitude of Geo-Therapy, politics and love are lived out till the end.
Nobody, of course, is real, and by the end the two lovers have becove blabbering sophists such as would empty any room.
The book is often fun, often as murdered with coyness you could flush it without thought about the dollars it cost, but finally: Robbins is abundant and you've got to smile and think a great deal along with the man.