Fifteen years ago, I read a novel called Skinny Legs and All that opened my mind to the possibilities of perception beyond the limited field of what my culture taught of reality. It was the first novel I had ever read by Tom Robbins and would not be the last. It sparked an explosion of reading until I had read the other four books he had published at that time. Robbins, an American novelist, has a poetic touch to his stories, a strong social and political undercurrent, and a wild imagination that teeters on the edge of reality. He is one of my all time favorite authors.
Skinny Legs and All has been controversial since it was published in 1990. Robbins touches on diverse topics of religion and politics intertwined with an impressive expressional story that questions the perceptions of reality and the choices of how Western culture lives. He takes us on a wild, humorous adventure of enlightenment of five inanimate objects, a Conch Shell, a Can O’ Beans, a Painted Stick, a Dirty Sock and a Spoon, that embark on a mission to reach Jerusalem to save the world. Their path crosses with unforgettable characters that help them along on their mission. The newlywed couple that travel across country in a roast turkey to the co-owners, one Jew and one Arab, of a Middle Eastern restaurant; the fundamental preacher to the belly dancer, and the detective to the doorman turned rocker. The list continues of interesting characters making you wonder how they relate to each other and their connection within the story.
Robbins divides the novel in seven sections or veils inspired by the ancient Middle Eastern Dance of the Seven Veils to present the seven illusions that hide the facts of life from our eyes. As a veil drops, Robbins reveals a key to happiness that Western culture has lost with it’s failure to live in harmony and peace with itself.
Skinny Legs and All is a novel that is hard to put down once you begin this life changing adventure. A novel you do not want to miss. A change of perspective that will make you wonder what was that shadow in the corner of your eye.