4 out of 4 stars
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This book is a story of two men that are both deeply affected by addictions, one older and one younger. The older man, Duke Reynolds was a circus sword swallower until an accident left him no longer able to do so. He meets the younger man in a bar where he becomes something of a mentor to the younger man Gary.
The book begins with an introduction where he receives a gift upon the death of his old friend Duke upon his death. This sets the stage for the first section of the book.
The book is written in three sections. each introducing a character or a time in the characters' lives. In the first section, we meet Duke Reynolds, a circus sword swallower. This is my favorite section as it is full of colorful stories of how Duke survives as a circus sideshow act and his interesting life. Duke lives a very unconventional life and also has some very powerful addictions, but underneath you get the feeling he is a genuinely likable and passionate soul. In one story in this section, he is sitting at a bar counting his money, that he earned performing on the street, and he is surrounded by working girls, he is generous to a fault giving each a roll of quarters as well as buying them rounds.
The next section details the life of Gary as a newly graduated college student trying to transition into real life post-college while also dealing with his own addictions. This part was not my favorite but it was necessary to the storyline. It highlighted the life of Gary and the struggles he was having adjusting and finding work, also some of his college days and things that led to his becoming addicted to alcohol and then to drugs.
In the final chapter, is about the budding friendship that develops between the two and delves into Dukes mentoring of Gary and finally convinces him that he should give up alcohol and choose to have a family instead. This has some very credible parts and is encouraging.
The story brings up many questions about life, love, and spirituality. Duke is described by Gary as an atheist and this book may be a bit confrontational to some readers based on some of the religious interpretations given. Also, this is not a book suitable for anyone under the age of 17 due to the graphic depictions of alcohol and drug addictions.
I did not find any grammatical errors and for this reason, I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 18 that enjoys a good humanistic story with somewhat flawed characters.
For these reasons, I rated this book4 out of 4 stars.
The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid
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