4 out of 4 stars
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The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid written by Gary Robinson starts with a man named Duke. He has been in the circus since he was fifteen and developed the art of sword swallowing - a very dangerous occupation which people have been known to die from. After some soul-searching and alcohol abuse, Chico (Gary) comes along and discovers that he wants to follow in Duke's footsteps. I felt the story about the sword swallower is more interesting than Gary's story because life behind the scenes of a circus is something you don't see every day whereas a young alcoholic man struggling to find his way in the world is ordinary. Somehow these two stories balance each other out, making The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid an excellent book to read.
Drugs and alcohol are a big part of Duke's life, therefore it is a big part of the book. It was enlightening to read about how meth (methamphetamine) affects a person as I have not experienced it. Someone that has experienced it can probably relate to it more. In this novel, it is referred to as "medicine" which gives you the idea of how an addict sees this drug. It's not for recreation; they need it so that they can stay awake for days.
If you are faint of heart be prepared for a little gut-wrenching; the author goes into detail a lot, especially when it comes to the sword-swallowing parts. The details are almost essential though because you can almost feel what you are reading (which may not always be something you would want to feel), but important none-the-less.
There appeared to be very few errors in The Sword Swallower and A Chico Kid, and it is a well-written piece of literature with great character development. The one small problem I discovered was the way the Sword Swallower story stops abruptly. I wanted to know more. What happened after that? Well, the good news is that you will find out at the end. The author has made another smart move to make sure you keep reading.
I gave The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid a rating of 4 out of 4 stars because anything lower would not be right when the quality of Gary Robinson's writing is so excellent. Basing the story around his idol, and being able to come up with Duke's life as well, was genius. He proves that with the right subject a great autobiography can easily be written.
The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid
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