"Still Life with Woodpecker" is the only Tom Robbins novel I have read and so I cannot compare it any other work of his. But fundamentally it is a tale of love about a redheaded deposed princess living with her deposed king and queen parents just outside of Seattle. Her search for love and meaning in the world while trying to save it from the horrors of destruction, all while falling in love with another red-head who finds purpose in blowing things up, is the majority of the story.
Yet in essence "Still Life with Woodpecker" is less of a story than it is a very long aside about the nature of things and emotions. At least in the end I felt that the plot, in its outrageous plausibility, along with none of the characters being totally worth sympathy, became a side note to the appreciation I had for its wordsmithing and poignant insights, particularly how the narrative exposes its emotions out in the open for all to notice. Unfortunately at various points Tom feels the need to explain in asides what this is all about when I think the story was doing a fine job on its own doing that.
Plus, being a red head myself, it was nice to see how certain aspects of humanity and personality may or may not be embodied in the symbols of our ginger scalps.
This is a story about a tarnished princess, an outlaw bomber with bad teeth, a scene stealing if somewhat undomesticated loyal servant, toads - both real and plastic, an exiled King and his "Oh-Oh, spaghetti-o" Queen, a CIA not-so-secret agent, an outraged Middle Eastern playboy, blackberries, Camels, Ralph Nader, pyramids and aliens from Argon.
What more could you possibly want in a book?
Tom Robbins has a genuine talent for words and puns, and those with active funny bones will be tickled throughout. His casual use of words like "slishy" and phrases like "I have a black belt in haiku" abound, to be discovered with unbridled delight.
This is a book to be enjoyed within one lunar cycle without fear of repercussions.