3 out of 4 stars
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The Sword Swallower and the Chico Kid is a work of fiction written by Gary Robinson. The author’s friendship with Captain Don Leslie, an old sword swallower, provides the inspiration for this book.
The book opens with Grandpa Gary playing his grandson Calvin. A knock at the door interrupts their play. A deliveryman then hands a package over to Grandpa Gary. When he opens the package, Gary finds a canvas painting. It is a reminder of a past time, featuring none other than Duke Reynolds. The unexpected package causes Grandpa Gary to become emotional. Concerned, Calvin asks about Duke. Gary then tells Calvin about the man who saved him.
Thus, begins the extraordinary tale of an extraordinary man.
This book consists of 3 parts and 32 chapters. The first part of the book tells of Duke Reynolds. The second part introduces Gary Robinson. Eventually, in part three, the two characters meet and a moment of serendipity ensues.
This is a fast-paced story that flows smoothly. The characters were well rounded. They are generally misfits and alcoholics, who grew up in dysfunctional homes. They both live life from an ‘in the moment perspective’. However, in the third part, a different interpretation of ‘living the moment’ is presented.
I enjoyed reading this book. There are inspirational points throughout the story. In one instance, Duke, during his short stint in prison, completes the G.E.D. programme in addition to a year’s worth of Julliard School of Musical Theory and Harmony. Thus, he sheds the image of once being a runaway who did not possess a high school diploma.
I have spotted more than five errors, which were not too distracting. This is perhaps, the first book I have read with so many scenes involving drunks, and to be honest it got a bit monotonous after a while.
While I enjoyed reading the fictional life of Duke Reynolds, I felt the main point of the story took too long to unfold. A large percentage of the book is devoted to creating a picture of the individual characters. While I appreciate the author’s investment in presenting the characters, I think that too little is dedicate to the relationship between Duke and Gary. Their relationship was not as awe-inspiring as I hoped. The relationship between Angel and Gary also felt rushed.
This book has some adult language, drug use and mentions some sex scenes that are not explicit. Some of the views expressed on religion and drug use might offend some persons. Regardless, I would recommend this book to adults who enjoy rooting for the underdog, as both Duke and Gary had to overcome some hurdles in their lives. I also think that despite this book being a work of fiction, persons who enjoy reading biographies/autobiographies would enjoy this book.
Overall, I bestow a rating of 3 out of 4 stars to The Sword Swallower and the Chico Kid by Gary Robinson. I wanted to rate this book higher, but I felt that the most important part of the story was rushed, and this left me unsatisfied.
The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid
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