4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Let me preface my review by telling the reader that I am a methamphetamine addict and alcoholic in recovery now for 10 years. My past struggles, to deal with living life in a "sane" manner, color many of my thoughts and opinions. As I began reading The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid by Gary Robinson, I wondered how a sideshow sword swallower and a kid from Chico, California would have ever had a chance to meet. I also had a preconceived notion that sword swallowing was some sort of illusion or parlor trick and that was why it would be part of a sideshow. I took a few minutes to look at what was said about sword swallowing on Wikipedia and found that although there are different techniques performed by individual artists--they really do swallow swords!
In fact, that is how they met. Duke Reynolds was at the local bar in Chico doing an act for the patrons. He was no longer able to swallow swords at that point due to an earlier accident. The act was comedic and also offered some other feats that might have been seen in a circus sideshow. Gary Robinson, the Chico Kid was there at Duffy's that night and was fascinated by Duke's act.
When they formed their unlikely friendship, Duke was near the end of his life and Gary had only been out of college for a short time. Gary was at a low point in his life. He had lost his job and felt like his future was bleak. His negative life results were caused by overindulgence in alcohol. Duke had lived a long and somewhat lonely life. He considered all the circus folks he had been around for years to be like family. He seemed to regret that he had never married. Duke told Gary that if he wanted to marry and have a family, then he was going to have to stop drinking alcohol. Duke believed that if a man was an alcoholic that he would also be a single man. Duke had also spent 5 years in prison where he may have experienced some recovery groups or at least spent some time around other men in recovery. Duke was able to give up alcohol but continued to snort methamphetamine until his last days, a total of over 40 years.
The pair got to know each other well and became close. They talked about religion, family, morality, what became known as their medicine and what each wanted for his life. Unfortunately, the kid from Chico also developed a habit for methamphetamine.
The book is about their lives and the struggles each endured. It is a story of redemption and change for Gary. I enjoyed reading this book very much and give it a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. It is well-written and edited. It is a work of fiction but it reads like a biography. I liked that I read about the sword swallower, then about the Chico Kid, then about their shared story. It made sense to me that the part about the sword swallower was written using third person perspective and the other parts were written in first person as the story is told by the Chico Kid, who is also the author. I feel like the story is appropriate for most adult readers but they must consider whether reading about drug use might cause a triggering effect.
The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like Legendary Lisa's review? Post a comment saying so!