Review by holsam_87 -- The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid

This forum is for volunteer reviews by members of our review team. These reviews are done voluntarily by the reviewers and are published in this forum, separate from the official professional reviews. These reviews are kept separate primarily because the same book may be reviewed by many different reviewers.
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 217
Joined: 03 Feb 2018, 15:45
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 42
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 160
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Superhighway 2 by Alex Fayman
Reading Device: B00IKPYKWG
Location: Washington

Review by holsam_87 -- The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid

Post by holsam_87 » 27 Feb 2018, 00:34

[Following is a volunteer review of "The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid" by Gary Robinson.]
Book Cover
4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review

The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid by Gary Robinson tells the story of two very different men and how they connect over personal stories and the fact that they both were functioning in society as drug addicts. The first part of the book tells the story of Duke Reynolds, who made his living by working in the circus sideshow and performing sword swallowing in front of audiences for many years. It shows that he worked hard and developed an unfortunate drug problem to combat the fact that working in the circus is extremely hard and that the workers could end up working 20 hours or more putting things together for a show. Duke does try other forms of work through the years when the circus closes down, but he still did sword swallowing for a while until he had an accident.

As for the other man, Gary Robinson, it shows what his young life was like once he left high college. He did attempt to go to college, but he faced a lot of alcohol and drug problems himself. Even though he graduated, he struggled with finding work since in the end he always questioned his sense of purpose and what he was doing in his life. It is in Chico, California where things seem to get better for him for a while. However, in a moment of public drunkenness, he finds himself at an awful moment where is basically at his wit's end. At that moment when it seems that everything can only get worse, he comes across Duke Reynolds in a bar and becomes captivated by the older man that is covered in tattoos and is talking about feats that he would do in his days working with the circus.

The last part focuses on the friendship and bond that is formed between Duke and Gary. Kind of like Duke is imparting knowledge on to Gary like a mentor, especially since they have both faced similar trials with their drug problems. Duke's philosophy of life is a strength that he imparts upon Gary, that he should focus on today and not worry about yesterday or tomorrow. It is this mentorship that encourages Gary to follow this passion of becoming a writer since it is what makes him happy.

I really enjoyed the fact that this was based on the author's personal life and his friendship with Duke. It makes a book like this much more interesting, especially knowing that it is based on real people. Realistic fiction a lot of times seems to be a hit or miss for me, but the fact that the author pretty much comes out and explains that this book is based on him and Duke makes it a lot easier to follow. It almost seems like it could be made into a movie since the feeling of the mentorship would correlate well, the only thing is that a lot of things would have to be embellished and over exaggerated.

It is in my opinion that this book deserves a score of 4 out of 4 stars. It was well done and felt believable. The language could be a bit coarse since it was explicit, but it seemed to go with the story and scenarios that were portrayed. My favorite part was when Gary and Duke started bonding as friends and traveling together because it gave a sense of how they viewed each other. This was a great way for the author to honor his friend.

In the future, I would be interested in reading more works by Gary Robinson. His views of the world are very direct and raw in a way that shows that he isn't afraid to show the more negative side of life. I will be keeping my eyes open for his future books, especially if they cover the life of another interesting individual. Thank you for sharing this story with me.

The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon

Like holsam_87's review? Post a comment saying so!

User avatar
Posts: 39
Joined: 23 Apr 2017, 19:27
2018 Reading Goal: 52
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 21
Currently Reading: Becoming the Dragon
Bookshelf Size: 27
Reading Device: B00BWYQ9YE

Post by drunyan » 08 Mar 2018, 20:43

Nice review! I loved this book. It had blood, drugs, and booze in places- things I don't particularly enjoy reading about. But they were such an integral part of the plot, giving it a deep realism. I was intrigued by the art of sword-swallowing. I also enjoyed the depiction of the characters in the circus family. I would give this book a score of 4 out of 4 stars

User avatar
Posts: 4
Joined: 03 Mar 2018, 16:05
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 29

Post by Dispark » 13 Mar 2018, 03:17

I was intrigued by the art of sword-swallowing. I also enjoyed the the roles played by the 2 of the major characters in the circus family. I would give this book a score of 3 out of 4 stars

Posts: 25
Joined: 01 Feb 2018, 14:00
2018 Reading Goal: 20
2017 Reading Goal: 0
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 20
Currently Reading: Becoming the Dragon
Bookshelf Size: 24
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: The Reel Sisters by Michelle Cummings
Reading Device: B00IKPYKWG
Location: Texas

Post by denizebookz » 11 Apr 2018, 13:04

This book does sound interesting and since it is based on the author's life and friendship, that gives more credibly to the story. Making a living swallowing swords sounds pretty crazy. I will add it to the books I want to read. Good review.

Posts: 36
Joined: 07 Mar 2018, 10:03
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 40
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Superhighway by Alex Fayman

Post by charmaineperit » 26 Apr 2018, 21:09

This book caught my attention more when you said that it is based on the author's life. I also like stories that show a direct and raw view of the world. Nice review! I definitely want to read this book.

Posts: 356
Joined: 19 Jan 2018, 13:32
Currently Reading: Bitroux
Bookshelf Size: 22
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Man of the Sea by Nathan Kippley

Post by crediblereading2 » 27 Apr 2018, 09:36

I have downloaded this book to my shelf and will definitely read it. I like the way that both men with these negative attributes were able to motivate each other to become better individuals in the end. Great review.

User avatar
Lucia dayopay
Posts: 2
Joined: 22 Apr 2018, 11:56
Bookshelf Size: 0

Post by Lucia dayopay » 03 May 2018, 01:16

This book deserves a score of 4 stars because its really nice book, I love the story of friendship..i love this book and i am looking forward to read more books by gary robinson

User avatar
Posts: 1
Joined: 04 May 2018, 14:17
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 2

Post by Durckine » 06 May 2018, 06:10

amazing its damn interting and i love the love story in it relation and so sweet words i vote 4/4 its anice book

User avatar
Kihiu Dennoh
Posts: 2
Joined: 30 Apr 2018, 03:15
Bookshelf Size: 0

Post by Kihiu Dennoh » 11 May 2018, 02:39

Wow i absolutely love this book for its true life story and the fact that it has one one of the best mentorship - follow your passion

User avatar
Posts: 605
Joined: 14 Feb 2018, 15:30
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 52
Currently Reading: The Carbynarah Chronicles
Bookshelf Size: 231
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Rullunder the Imagerater by R Mikel Nelson
Location: Louisiana

Post by kfwilson6 » 11 May 2018, 11:47

Duke really met some interesting people and I wonder if Gary learned more about them than he puts in this book. I really would like to know how some of the people Duke worked with in the circus came to be in the circus and how they felt about their roles. I bet many of them have an interesting story to share. Maybe Gary will have further insight on some of them in another book.

User avatar
Posts: 69
Joined: 06 May 2018, 08:13
2018 Reading Goal: 24
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 75
Currently Reading: Antony and Cleopatra
Bookshelf Size: 49
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Diary of a Snoopy Cat by R.F. Kristi
Location: World Citizen

Post by Bookmermaid » 20 May 2018, 04:29

I liked your frankness about the book's language which I would agree is sometimes coarse.

Post Reply

Return to “Volunteer Reviews”