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First two chapters [< 3 pg] of Still Life With Woodpecker

by Tom Robbins

If this typewriter can't do it, then ****** it, it can't be done.
This is the all-new Remington SL3, the machine that answers the question, "Which is harder, trying to read The Brothers Karamazov while listening to Stevie Wonder records or hunting for Easter eggs on a typewriter keyboard?" This is the cherry on top of the cowgirl. The burger served by the genius waitress. The Empress card.
I sense that the novel of my dreams is in the Remington SL3--although it writes much faster than I can spell. And no matter that my typing finger was pinched last week by a giant land crab. This baby speaks electric Shakespeare at the slightest provocation and will rap out a page and a half if you just look at it hard.
"What are you looking for in a typewriter?" the salesman asked.
"Something more than words," I replied. "Crystals. I want to send my readers armloads of crystals, some of which are the colors of orchids and peonies, some of which pick up radio signals from a secret city that is half Paris and half Coney Island."
He recommended the Remington SL3. My old typewriter was named Olivetti. I know an extraordinary juggler named Olivetti. No relation. There is, however, a similarity between juggling and composing on the typewriter. The trick is, when you spill something, make it look like part of the act.
I have in my cupboard, under lock and key, the last bottle of Anaiis Nin (green label) to be smuggled out of Punta del Visionario before the revolution. Tonight, I'll pull the cork. I'll inject ten cc. into a ripe lime, the way the natives do. I'll suck. And begin ...
If this typewriter can't do it, I'll swear it can't be done...

In the last quarter of the twentieth century, at a time when Western civilization was declining too rapidly for comfort and yet too slowly to be very exciting, much of the world sat on the edge of an increasingly expensive theater seat, waiting--with various combinations of dread, hope, and ennui--for something momentous to occur.
Something momentous was bound to happen soon. The entire collective unconscious could not be wrong about that. But what would it be? And would it be apocalyptic or rejuvenating? A cure for cancer or a nuclear bang? A change in the weather or a change in the sea? Earthquakes in California, killer bees in London, Arabs in the stock exchange, life in the laboratory, or a UFO on the White House lawn? Would Mona Lisa sprout a mustache? Would the dollar fail?
Christian aficionados of the Second Coming scenario were convinced that after a suspenseful interval of two thousand years, the other shoe was about to drop.
And five of the era's best-known psychics, meeting at the Chelsea Hotel, predicted that Atlantis would soon reemerge from the depths.
To this last, Princess Leigh-Cheri responded, "There are two lost continents. . . . Hawaii was one, called Mu, the mother, its tips still projecting in our senses--the land of slap dance, fishing music, flowers and happiness. There are three lost continents. . . . We are one: the lovers."
In whatever esteem one might hold Princess Leigh-Cheri's thoughts concerning matters geographic, one must agree that the last quarter of the twentieth century was a severe period for lovers. It was a time when women openly resented men, a time when men felt betrayed by women, a time when romantic relationships took on the character of ice in spring, stranding many children on jagged and inhospitable floes.
Nobody quite knew what to make of the moon any more.

Consider a certain night in August. Princess Leigh-Cheri was gazing out of her attic window. The moon was full. The moon was so bloated it was about to tip over. Imagine awakening to find the moon flat on its face on the bathroom floor, like the late Elvis Presley, poisoned by banana splits. It was a moon that could stir wild passions in a moo cow. A moon that could bring out the devil in a bunny rabbit. A moon that could turn lug nuts into moonstones, turn Little Red Riding Hood into the big bad wolf. For more than an hour, Leigh-Cheri stared into the mandala of the sky. "Does the moon have a purpose?" she inquired of Prince Charming.
Prince Charming pretended that she had asked a silly question. Perhaps she had. The same query put to the Remington SL3 elicited this response:
Albert Camus wrote that the only serious question is whether to kill yourself or not.
Tom Robbins wrote that the only serious question is whether time has a beginning and an end.
Camus clearly got up on the wrong side of the bed, and Robbins must have forgotten to set the alarm.
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.
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