Overall rating and opinion of " The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid" by Gary Robinson

Use this forum to discuss the May 2018 Book of the Month, "The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid" by Gary Robinson
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kfwilson6
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Re: Overall rating and opinion of " The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid" by Gary Robinson

Post by kfwilson6 »

Jeyasivananth wrote: 07 May 2018, 16:28 I enjoyed reading and reviewing this book. I loved the imagery and the symbols used like the metaphor of the circus. I especially liked the usage of Tattooing as a symbol to validate the arbitrary nature of morality. Tattooing, an art that was tabooed in the past, is today a part of mainstream culture. Another imagery that fascinated me was the significance of Chico. Chico is described as a breeding ground, in which even a ‘tumbleweed’ like Gary himself can grow roots and flourish. However, I was disappointed with the writers’ treatment of the minor characters. I was especially left wanting for answers with regard to the fates of Gonad, Wubby, Lucy and the other members of the circus family, after the dismantling of the circus. I was astonished to see Duke Reynolds does not make any efforts to get in touch with his former friends once out of jail, despite describing them so fondly. Similarly, the character of Angel too was not fleshed out well. We know nothing of the source of her troubles except her drunken rants on love and hurt. Her relationship with Gary Robinson seems less convincing. These pitfalls leave you feeling that the plot has many loose ends.
I found the skimpy bits of information about the secondary characters quite bothersome. When one of the guys goes missing, we never find out if he was ok or not. There were so many interesting characters in this. Their development would have really enhanced this book.
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Post by P Reefer »

I am still in the process of reading this novel, so I will reserve my judgment on a general opinion.
What I like most about this novel? I love the excitement captured by the landscape of the circus and the crowd.

I like least the use of obscene and violent language by the characters. I also dislike the several paragraphs of two lines and the bland language use.

When I have completed reading this novel, I may opt to either recommend or not recommend this text
to others.
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roslyn_read
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Post by roslyn_read »

I could not finish the book. For the life of me I could not get past the first 20 pages. It's a real shame because I very much wanted to enjoy it but it seemed to me, more like a first draft than a final copy of a novel. I couldn't get past the dryness of the writing either, the lack of imaginative description.
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kfwilson6
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Post by kfwilson6 »

Bookmermaid wrote: 13 May 2018, 21:52 I am still in the process of reading this novel, so I will reserve my judgment on a general opinion.
What I like most about this novel? I love the excitement captured by the landscape of the circus and the crowd.

I like least the use of obscene and violent language by the characters. I also dislike the several paragraphs of two lines and the bland language use.

When I have completed reading this novel, I may opt to either recommend or not recommend this text
to others.
I somewhat understood the obscene jokes about sword swallowing. They were pretty obvious and true to how a real-life performance would go. People think jokes about sex are funny so Duke uses them to draw in the crowd. At other points in the book, I agree with you. I didn't care for it either.
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Post by Templez_smith »

I agree with this, and felt that is was indeed a pity that the female characters were underdeveloped.
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Alwaystkd
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Post by Alwaystkd »

I have this book on my bookshelf to read. I am looking forward to reading it and discussing the topic in this forum.
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Post by P Reefer »

The use of obscene language by authors is far from the taboo that it had been centuries ago in many territories. Quite often it expresses the character's frustration or recklessness about a particular event. In suggested,reading list for students, the use of obscene language, in the text remains a highly contentious issue as some parents and church bodies have strong objections towards it. Critics and some educationalists argue that students are often already exposed to such language and the merits of the critical issues the texts feature far outweighs the demerits of the language use.Like Kfwison6 I prefer not to read it in a text and I am more impressed when an author is able to express the emotions of his or her characters without having to frequently blurt out obscene language.
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Post by amandathebibliophile »

I am about halfway done with this book and so far, I mostly like it. But I want to agree with some of the comments I've noted in this forum, that some of the characters seem underdeveloped. More importantly, I don't love how the disabled circus characters are depicted. However, I am enjoying the love that Duke has for his circus family, and I hope this love will outweigh some of the more underwhelming aspects of the story I've experienced thus far.
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kfwilson6
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Post by kfwilson6 »

Bookmermaid wrote: 16 May 2018, 11:33 The use of obscene language by authors is far from the taboo that it had been centuries ago in many territories. Quite often it expresses the character's frustration or recklessness about a particular event. In suggested,reading list for students, the use of obscene language, in the text remains a highly contentious issue as some parents and church bodies have strong objections towards it. Critics and some educationalists argue that students are often already exposed to such language and the merits of the critical issues the texts feature far outweighs the demerits of the language use.Like Kfwison6 I prefer not to read it in a text and I am more impressed when an author is able to express the emotions of his or her characters without having to frequently blurt out obscene language.
Younger people may be exposed to obscene language but the more prevalent it is, the more they will see it as the norm. I think if their exposure can be limited, they are less likely to pick up the habit. I saw an interview with Mary Higgins Clark about how she never uses sex or curse words and every new book she puts out is a bestseller. So anyone wanting to say these things are necessary in order to appeal or relate to readers is wrong.
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Post by bobbiebryner »

I loved the beginning of the book. Duke's character was so beautifully written. He was someone whom I could relate to, understand, and appreciate. It was easy to empathize with his choices and lifestyle. I felt myself hoping that he would have a "happily ever after" because he deserved it.

When the author started describing his own character, I was interested at first. As this part of the story went on, the character became less believable, more introspective, and less appealing. He seemed too wrapped up in his own thoughts for me to feel empathy for his situation. It was almost narcissistic.

When the third part of the book started, I was happy to see the return of Duke's character. The author continued the story from Gary's point of view. This ruined it for me. Since I was not able to feel compassion towards Gary's character, I was not overly moved by his redemption.

I don't think I would recommend this particular book to others. However, the author has potential. I would read more of his future works to see how he grows as a storyteller.
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Post by Dynamite89 »

I was not an immediate fan of this book. The first 2/3 of the story were a bit challenging for me to stay engaged with. The character introductions of the circus companions were somewhat difficult to follow, and I found myself having to go back and forth a couple times to verify I was following the correct character. However, I am glad that I stuck it out to the end. The final third of the story has the best flow, and was enjoyable to read. I understand that the other sections were attempting to set the stage, but it didn't feel like the author hit his stride until the near end. The life journeys of the characters were relatively interesting, the messages regarding life do invoke thought, but I don't know if I will actually recommend this book to anyone I know. I would, however, be willing to read future works of this author to see his growth and progression with storytelling.
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Post by Legasus09 »

Based on my best knowledge, I would rate it 4.5 out of 5...
It depicts love, care, sorrow and circus life... It was quite an adventure for me while reading this marvelous book. I look forward to reading more in the future!
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Post by P Reefer »

My overall rating for this book will be a 2 out of 4 . I liked the outrageous adventures of the protagonist and the larger than life characterization of the Duke. The many reenactments of circus life and street theatre. However, I disliked the frequent use of obscene language by the author for his protagonists.
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Post by KingKhordex »

I think everything's ok with the book...from the start you feel it's not worth it, but being patient you will really get glued to it. Nice one.
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Post by jessicawallace6 »

roslyn_read wrote: 14 May 2018, 12:51 I could not finish the book. For the life of me I could not get past the first 20 pages. It's a real shame because I very much wanted to enjoy it but it seemed to me, more like a first draft than a final copy of a novel. I couldn't get past the dryness of the writing either, the lack of imaginative description.
I'm only about 20 pages in, but I'm feeling much the same way. I want to finish it, but the sentences are so choppy and I found 10 grammatical errors in the first 7 pages alone. :(

I definitely agree with you on the book feeling like a first draft- I'm wondering if anyone actually proofread it before it was made available on Amazon.
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