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Book Review: Still Life with Woodpecker


Published in 1980, Still Life with Woodpecker is a captivating novel written by Tom Robbins. Known for his unique writing style and imaginative storytelling, Robbins takes readers on a thrilling journey filled with romance, metaphysics, and contemplation of societal conventions.

Plot Summary

The novel revolves around the unconventional love story between the redheaded outcast princess Leigh-Cheri and the notorious bomb-building outlaw, Bernard Mickey Wrangle. Set in the backdrop of Seattle, Washington, the narrative explores their passionate yet turbulent relationship as they embark on a series of surreal adventures.

Leigh-Cheri, a princess known for her unconventional beauty and rebellious nature, becomes disillusioned with her royal lifestyle and the materialistic values it represents. Seeking freedom and authenticity, she encounters Wrangle, a charismatic anarchist who believes in challenging societal norms through explosive acts of rebellion.

Together, they embark on a quest to navigate the complexities of love, identity, and societal expectations. The narrative weaves in elements of environmentalism, consumerism, and the power dynamics between individuals and institutions, all while embracing Robbins’ signature irreverent humor and philosophical musings.

Awards and Reception

Still Life with Woodpecker has garnered critical acclaim and has become a beloved classic among Robbins’ fans. While the novel didn’t receive any major literary awards, it has established a significant cult following.

Readers and critics alike praise Robbins’ poetic and vivid writing style, his ability to blend complex themes with humor, and his knack for creating memorable and charismatic characters. The novel’s exploration of love, rebellion, and non-conformity resonates with many, making it a favorite among those who appreciate thought-provoking and unconventional literature.

Notable Characters

Leigh-Cheri – The redheaded princess who questions societal conventions and seeks a more authentic life.

Bernard Mickey Wrangle – An outlaw and bomb-builder who becomes Leigh-Cheri’s love interest and partner in crime.

The Woodpecker – A mysterious and recurring motif throughout the novel, representing the desire for freedom and individuality.

A’ben Fizel – A Swiss villain with a dark past, entangled in a dangerous game with Wrangle.

These characters, among others, contribute to the richness and depth of the narrative, intertwining their storylines with the book’s central themes.


In conclusion, Still Life with Woodpecker is a thought-provoking and unconventional novel that continues to captivate readers with its poetic language, philosophical insights, and imaginative storytelling. Through its exploration of love, rebellion, and societal conventions, Tom Robbins invites readers to question and challenge the norms that govern their lives.

So, if you’re a literature enthusiast interested in a unique and mind-expanding reading experience, be sure to add Still Life with Woodpecker to your reading list.

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