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Still Life With Volkswagens Mass Market Paperback – Sep 1 1996


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Press; Reprint edition (Sept. 1 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879516941
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879516949
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 1.8 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Nicholson (Everything and More) hilariously reunites the cast of characters from his first novel, Street Sleeper, saddling them with varying degrees of obsession with Volkswagens. Charles Lederer, recently deinstitutionalized former member of Parliament, hitchhikes through England in a fugue state, discovering that "wherever there's trouble, there's always a Volkswagen" and concluding, therefore, that the Bug is "quite clearly the car of the devil." Barry Osgathorpe, a Zen environmentalist loath to drive because of the pollution it causes, is propelled back into his souped-up black Beetle to search variously for Lederer, a missing Veedub collector and the cause of an epidemic of mysterious Volkswagen explosions. Phelan, a sinisterly charismatic retro-Nazi, leads a band of skinheads in a fleet of evilly customized Bugs on a demented hunt for the ultimate piece of Volkswagen memorabilia. Nicholson deftly adds more bizarre characters, all linked by their Volkswagen mania. In addition to his motley pit crew, Nicholson also crisscrosses their story lines with vignettes of famous Beetles?Bugs of Elvis, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and, the ur-Volkswagen fan, Adolf Hitler. The novel's pile-up finale has a bit of deus ex machina to it. But so what. It's a mad, mad, mad world, and Nicholson's satiric talent has enough horsepower to make thrilling a meandering ride to nowhere in particular.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

The title of this new comic novel by the gifted British author of Hunters and Gatherers (LJ 10/1/94) is, of course, a takeoff on Tom Robbins's Still Life with Woodpecker (LJ 10/1/80), and the chapter headings are similarly full of witty allusion: "Bonfire of the Volkswagens," "A Book of the Volkswagens," "Volkswagen Descending a Staircase." Nicholson's hilarious tale of obsession, in which everyone from Adolf Hitler to Charles Manson makes a cameo appearance, features a gang of Beetle-driving skinheads and centers on one Barry Osgathorpe, a.k.a. Ishmael the Zen Road Warrior, who puts the pedal to the metal to find out who's been going around blowing up his beloved VWs. It's a wickedly funny read from beginning to end that invites comparison with the best of Robbins and both Amises. Highly recommended.?David Sowd, formerly with Stark Cty. District Lib., Canton, Ohio
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

By Jenny Smithe on Sept. 14 2003
Format: Hardcover
If there was any more fluff in this book contractors would buy it by the truckload and use it as landfill. The obvious waste of time, energy, and research that went into this book is staggering, on par with the worst writer of our time, Tom Robbins. I admit, I did finish it, even though I regret that waste of life, but the ending was worthless. Mr. Nicholson, in an attempt to tie up loose ends only succeeded in putting a bullet in the head of a horse that didn't even make it out of the starting blocks. The characters were unbelievable as human beings from the start, the author's asides into his depressing and pathetic life were a complete waste of paper, and the story line went from bad to worse to unimaginably stupid. At no one point could I succeed in a suspension of disbelief. Maybe it was the nine year old car thief savant, or the sodomasochist undercover reporter, or the closeted gay neonazi; I don't know, but they all seemed to be part of the cast of an off, off, off broadway musical dreamed up by a necrophilic methamphetimine addict. I think after awhile I just kept reading out of pity for poor divorced Mr. Nicholson, who is obviously so obsessed with Volkswagen toys and writing that he can't seem to keep a normal personal relationship. Poor guy. If he ever reads this I hope he takes my advice and lays down the pen. If I were a psychic I'd say his future lies in the manufacture of kidney pies.
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By A. Ross on Sept. 9 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Apparently this is the second Volkswagen-themed novel by this British author. I have not as yet read "Street Sleeper," so I can't tell you if this is the better of the two or not. What I can tell you is that is a mostly amusing tale of a number of Brits all bound together in one way or another by Volkswagens. The main problem is that all across England, there are Volkswagen's blowing up left and right. Who is doing and why, and how they can be stopped is the alleged plot which drives this book, but the reader is mostly along for the ride as the main characters search for meaning in their existence. I get the impression that many of the main characters appeared previously in "Street Sleeper," but how long the interval has been in unclear. It's a little tough to describe a novel which culminates in a rave/VW expo under siege by eight neo-Nazi skinheads and their delusional leader, who is questing after a holy grail comprised of a hand carved VW whose sun roof opens to reveal human bone replicas of Hitler and Eva Braun in flagrante... All I can say is that if you have a taste for the quirky, check it out.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you've never met a collector of Volkswagen beetle memor
abilia, you don't have a complete grasp of the meaning of
the proverb: "It takes all kinds..." Nicholson brings the
reader a diverse group of Volkswagen "nuts", and with some
of his characters, the quotation marks would be optional.
All of his characters, from an annoyingly precocious
little boy, to a millionaire who vanished, to a platoon of
neo-Nazi skinheads are brought together convincingly by
that odd-shaped "car of the people" in this absurd romp
through our times. And Nicholson skillfully weaves his own
connection to the Bug into the novel via asides to the reader
which just add to one's conviction that one has entered an
alternate universe. Have no fear: you will reach a satisfying ending from which you will be allowed to return to
your own reality, where people drive Chryslers, Jeeps,
Hondas, and 4-wheel drive pick-ups.
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By A Customer on Sept. 14 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book at first because I too have a strange passion for Volkswagens. I was thoroughly delighted when I discovered that Mr. Nicholson had a great story to back up the VW obsession, once I got over the horror of destroying all those VWs that is. The strange cast of characters and their individual motivations are brilliantly woven together. The amazing thing is that even at it's most confusing and destructive I didn't want this novel to end. I look forward to trying his other works.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was worried that this book might be to 'British' for my American tastes, but it was wonderful. Well paced, colorful characters, and a good mix of action and humor. Well worth the money.
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