Does this book prove real-life is stranger than fiction?

Use this forum to discuss the May 2018 Book of the Month, "The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid" by Gary Robinson
User avatar
Posts: 114
Joined: 28 Apr 2018, 00:23
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 69
2017 Reading Goal: 0
Favorite Book: The Two Towers
Currently Reading: A Darker Shade of Magic
Bookshelf Size: 83
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Superhighway by Alex Fayman
Reading Device: B00IKPYKWG

Re: Does this book prove real-life is stranger than fiction?

Post by gkgurley » 28 May 2018, 14:32

That's interesting, I never for a moment doubted the credibility. It is such a wild story that I found myself thinking, "how could he NOT turn this into a novel?" Novels of any genre use exaggeration to talk about real, human experience. If he exaggerated, great, this is a novel, not a memoir. Making the story even "stranger" as you put it made the lessons at the end all the more obvious. Robinson has such clever storytelling tools.

User avatar
Posts: 647
Joined: 07 Sep 2014, 17:27
2019 Reading Goal: 12
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 33
2018 Reading Goal: 25
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 24
2017 Reading Goal: 25
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 24
Favorite Author: David Sedaris
Favorite Book: cannot pick just one
Currently Reading: Calypso
Bookshelf Size: 1522
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: The Adventures of The Gorilla Billies by Mark J Stopford
Reading Device: B00TA9FD2M
Publishing Contest Votes: 17
fav_author_id: 2790

Post by amybo82 » 30 May 2018, 06:50

“Based on true events” has a wide berth. To me, it just means that at least one thing in the book has to have been inspired by something that actually happened. I mean, Mary Poppins was based on true events, and we all know how fantastical that book/movie turned out to be! To some extent, you could argue that all books are based on true events because something had to happen to inspire the author to write their piece. Maybe I’m too skeptical, but when a book claims to be based on real events, I go ahead and read it as fiction.
A book is a dream that you hold in your hand. –Neil Gaiman

User avatar
Posts: 4
Joined: 24 May 2018, 04:31
Bookshelf Size: 0

Post by Norah+Ogutu » 30 May 2018, 08:03

For a start you may think that the events are not real because how does one swallow a sword however after in depth the meeting of the author with the Duke suggests real time and i believe the author is great artist who blends both the imagination and the real events. This is a great book

User avatar
Posts: 1060
Joined: 07 Jan 2018, 03:51
Favorite Book: The Magic Mountain
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 241
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Eleanor's Daughter by June Hall McCash
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by cristinaro » 31 May 2018, 06:30

kfwilson6 wrote: ↑
10 May 2018, 14:56
"Based on true events" always makes me wonder. When I read one BOTD, I saw that the Amazon reviews indicated some of the reviewers knew the author and barely any of the story was true. How much has to be true for a book to be labeled "based on true events?" I have no idea where the line is between being "based on" and being "inspired by."

I think the most shocking moment was the second helicopter lift. I kept thinking "NO DUKE, you don't know this pilot!!!" I was terrified but people do those type of stunts and there has to be a starting point.

I think most of the story of Duke is likely true. Gary's portion just aggravated me. 35 years old and still behaving as he was. I think the most difficult to believe aspect of the book was Gary's quick turn around upon Duke's death. Of all the years and experiences he had, why would the death of someone he had spent so little time with been so integral for him? Also, Angel's willingness to be with Gary was hard to comprehend. I just couldn't imagine anyone going after a man who allowed money to be stapled to his chest!!!!

Yup lots of surprises in this book.
I would recommend you reading Nick Hornby's novels High Fidelity or About a Boy to see how the protagonists are middle-aged men who still have no families of their own and continue to act as if they were still teenagers. In feminist criticism, Gary would be the representative of the New Man, who emerges as a reaction to the first and second feminist waves and who rebels against feminist claims and tries to regain his masculinity.
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

User avatar
Posts: 4
Joined: 28 Apr 2018, 17:00
2018 Reading Goal: 50
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 0
2017 Reading Goal: 0
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 0

Post by Iemaixiong » 31 May 2018, 17:54

:D This book seems real and it sells. For us to portray this and be bewildered about it is a creativity. Focusing on the derailed.

Posts: 510
Joined: 25 Jan 2018, 21:47
2019 Reading Goal: 75
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 8
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 88
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Confrontations by Donald J Williamson
Reading Device: B00I15SB16

Post by lesler » 31 May 2018, 18:36

The most wild moment in this book in my opinion is the failed attempt at transporting the water animals to the next carnival location. It was nuts! This does prove that real life is stranger than fiction, if this part is true.

User avatar
Posts: 171
Joined: 19 Mar 2018, 20:30
2018 Reading Goal: 50
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 22
2017 Reading Goal: 0
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 15
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Lemoncella Cocktail by Rene Natan

Post by alisonedgee » 05 Jun 2018, 21:17

well, bear in mind it's only 'based' on true events, theres obviously some embellishment kicking around

User avatar
Brittany J
Posts: 84
Joined: 23 May 2018, 05:52
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 24
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Final Notice by Van Fleisher

Post by Brittany J » 05 Jun 2018, 22:55

I find myself often questioning how much really is true when a book is "based on true events." I think some stories truly are stranger than fiction, and if the story is told well, we can at least understand the message and why a character would act a certain way. I think this makes it believable enough to be enjoyed.

User avatar
Posts: 2396
Joined: 18 Feb 2018, 12:17
2018 Reading Goal: 50
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 150
2017 Reading Goal: 0
Favorite Book: The Martian
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 177
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: A Twisted Wisdom by Stephanie Colbert
Reading Device: B00M4L4MFC

Post by Helen_Combe » 06 Jun 2018, 01:15

I’m always dubious about ’based on true events’. You never know which bits are true. It’s a bit like the film Fargo which states ’this is a true story’ when it’s totally fictional.
A thesaurus is necessary, essential, indispensable, vital, crucial and fundamental.

User avatar
NL Hartje
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 1254
Joined: 04 Jan 2018, 12:58
2018 Reading Goal: 30
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 143
2017 Reading Goal: 0
Favorite Book: Kushiel's Dart
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 384
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Ultra Blue by L. M. du Preez

Post by NL Hartje » 06 Jun 2018, 09:22

I don't know that it proves real life to be stranger than fiction; it may prove that some real lives are certainly different than the majority populace. :lol2:

I think the way his story was presented works to normalize his choices and "weirdness."
“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
-Dr. Seuss

Posts: 67
Joined: 02 Mar 2018, 03:24
2018 Reading Goal: 12
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 166
2017 Reading Goal: 0
Currently Reading: Apollo's Raven
Bookshelf Size: 30
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: End of the Last Great Kingdom by Victor Rose

Post by Bettercallyourbookie » 06 Jun 2018, 21:08

Consider the validity of the narrator. Do you trust who is telling the story to tell the truth? Depending on the narrator, there's a whole host of reasons they might be considered unreliable.

The attempts to normalize and rationalize strange choices and behaviors indicates to me that this is a case of an unreliable narrator.

User avatar
Posts: 134
Joined: 17 May 2018, 18:18
2018 Reading Goal: 60
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 23
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 21
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Sigfried’s Smelly Socks! by Len Foley

Post by SereneCharles » 09 Jun 2018, 16:50

I've read so many books that are based on true events and I see no connection to reality. I don't always believe it. So, I end up choosing what I feel is true in the book and what is not.
Writing is so much fun. So is reading. :techie-studyingbrown:

User avatar
Posts: 176
Joined: 21 May 2018, 12:13
Currently Reading: Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief
Bookshelf Size: 261
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: The Watchmaker’s Doctor by G. M. T. Schuilling

Post by 10mile72 » 09 Jun 2018, 17:01

I kind of took it on faith, but there were some moments that made you cringe. I thought the most horrifying thing was when Duke injured his throat on the Jerry Springer show. Probably some of the stuff was fiction.

User avatar
Posts: 118
Joined: 24 May 2018, 10:45
2018 Reading Goal: 30
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 26
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 24
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Dragon Born by Ela Lourenco

Post by Nmesoma » 11 Jun 2018, 18:51

Shadow war might be an old book but it echoes fiction rather than reality, or at least I don't want to believe it was. The violence, the cruelty of man towards another, the unity in great divide and the persecution for religion, ethnicity and others serve to introduce us firsthand to what hatred in one man; in this case Hitler can achieve. I still feel anger and resentment whenever I go through a second world war story but I take courage in knowing the majority of us would rather die together than live apart. A fictional story that seemed real was the moon is down , the writer was able to convey war, not as a situation that could be easily won but one that portrayed man's greatest desire; freedom.

User avatar
Posts: 113
Joined: 01 Mar 2018, 02:51
2018 Reading Goal: 40
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 67
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 27
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Gringo by Dan "Tito" Davis

Post by TashaCrispin » 12 Jun 2018, 11:15

Duke's personal story was so believable but some parts of the whole story seemed too strange. We see some 'based on a true story' stories to just contain bits of reality and a little fiction. I felt like I was reading fiction at one point or another and yes, sometimes I questioned the author's credibility. I guess one of the reasons is my unfamiliarity with these characters. But who knows. The world can be strange out there.

Post Reply

Return to “Discuss "The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid" by Gary Robinson”