Skinny Legs and All

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Ellen Cherry Charles had no intention of marrying Randolph “Boomer” Petway. For one thing, he was a high-school dropout, a welder by trade and totally uninterested in the world of art or artists. Ellen Cherry, on the other had, was determined to become an artistic success. In consequence, she fled her home in Virginia for the bright lights and intellectual stratosphere of Seattle.

Just as Ellen Cherry begins to enjoy a certain degree of success, however, Boomer Petway pulls into town in an Airstream motor home converted into a turkey. It is too much for Ellen Cherry, and she and Boomer are soon headed for New York as husband and wife. Unfortunately, when the rustic duo arrive in the Big Apple it is Boomer who quickly becomes the darling of the avant-garde. The newlyweds soon separate, and Ellen Cherry begins waitressing at Isaac and Ishmael’s, a restaurant across from the United Nations. Isaac and Ishmael’s is frequently bombed by contending religious factions, but then nothing is perfect insofar as the workplace is concerned.

While Ellen Cherry tries to keep from becoming explosive pate and Boomer copes with his unexpected notoriety, events and developments elsewhere conspire to complicate their lives. On the one hand, Ellen Cherry’s demented Uncle Buddy, a radio evangelist who gives Christianity a bad name, proposes to start World War III so as to hasten the return of Jesus the Christ. At the same time, Conch Shell and Painted Stick, priestess and priest of Astarte, the Earth Goddess, journey to Nef accompanied by Spoon, Dirty Sock, and Can ’o Beans. Conch Shell and Painted Stick are also interested in the creation of the Third Jerusalem and are convinced that Ellen Cherry holds the key to their return to Palestine. Some critics might regard Tom Robbins as very much an anachronism in this presumably sophisticated and materialistic age. Among the middle-aged baby boomers who retain a measure of affection for their ideological roots, however, SKINNY LEGS AND ALL will be welcomed as a delightful reminder of a time when all manner of things seemed possible. Admittedly Robbins may stretch the bounds of credulity just a tad, but the inimitable one-liners and the justified reinterpretation of the origins of patriarchy and religion in general are well worth the reader’s time and money.

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Skinny Legs and All is divided into seven major sections, each one corresponding to one of the seven veils dropped by Salome as she...

(The entire section is 135 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Robbins has indicated that he appreciates works by E. L. Doctorow, Giinter Grass, Thomas Fynchon, Ishmael Reed, and Alice Walker. Skinny...

(The entire section is 43 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Robbins's protagonist, Ellen Cherry Charles, plays a cameo role in his earlier novel Jitterbug Perfume (1984), in which she first...

(The entire section is 172 words.)