What drew Duke and Gary together?

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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Re: What drew Duke and Gary together?

Post by kdstrack »

I think both Duke and Gary were running away. They were not prepared emotionally to handle the problems in their family life. The solution seemed to be drugs and alcohol. When Duke met Gary he saw someone who was trying to handle his demons the same way Duke had. Duke wanted to teach Gary to stop running and face up to his past. Gary saw someone who had lived through the same problems and overcome them. He admired Duke for many reasons, but especially wanted to find out how Duke was able to put his past to rest and move forward.
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Post by kfwilson6 »

I have to admit that the scene where Gary first sees Duke performing and thinks Duke must have an interesting story was a little hard for me to view as incredibly realistic. I didn't think Gary would just look at Duke and think "I need to get to know this guy." I think Gary had a tendency to cling to someone in the hopes that maybe there was someone out there who could save him. I don't really know what it was about Duke that made him think Duke could be that person.

I think Duke was drawn to Gary because he saw a mirror image of his previous self. The alcoholism was very apparent. I believe Duke wanted to prevent Gary from suffering his fate of being alone and not really having a purpose. Gary wasn't just some lost teen or young adult; he was a grown man who still hadn't succeeded at anything in life.

They were both wanderers without any kind of roots. They could both leave at the drop of a hat and go anywhere. I think Duke just wanted to save Gary, and maybe he saw that as something he could truly achieve and a legacy he could leave behind. Gary needed someone to save him and he got lucky meeting Duke and making the choice to approach him.
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Post by gen_g »

CatInTheHat wrote: 07 May 2018, 21:00 Both Gary and Duke were escaping their homes of origin. They sought "family" in other ways while fighting addiction along the way. They both searched for a way to be centered, which it sounds like both found in the end.
I agree with you, I do think that they each saw some part of themselves in the other, and it is that that drew them to each other.
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Post by Naboth11 »

Happy to start this off ... even though Gary left on his own accord, I still had the sense that he was running from something. Perhaps Duke recognized this in him when they met later on and it allowed for a strong foundation even though early one they didn't connect regularly.
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Post by Kendra M Parker »

CatInTheHat wrote: 07 May 2018, 20:58
Dolor wrote: 07 May 2018, 02:10
The love of alcohol and the circus drew Duke and Gary together.
I think it was more of an addiction to alcohol rather than a love for it. Most addicts want to stop loving it but can't without help/treatment.
From the addicts I have encountered over the years, I agree with you. Most addicts don’t truly love their addiction. They might enjoy the sensation, but it is more about how they have programmed their brain. Gary even points this out at one point in his section where he mentions that whenever he experienced a strong emotion, regardless of whether it was good or bad, he had programmed his brain to desire the alcohol.
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Post by Kendra M Parker »

Naboth11 wrote: 11 May 2018, 07:11 Happy to start this off ... even though Gary left on his own accord, I still had the sense that he was running from something. Perhaps Duke recognized this in him when they met later on and it allowed for a strong foundation even though early one they didn't connect regularly.
I think Gary was running from his relationship with his mother. She was not in a good place, and I think he may have subconsciously seen his future in her behavior.

Duke ran from his own family, since they were also abusive and unhealthy. He preferred his circus family to his biological family.
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Post by jsparkleflower »

I see some of the obvious, with both having chaotic early lives, with tough family upbringing and eventual life of substance abuse. However, in saying that, I think they were also drawn together by personality needs. Duke and Gary were both deep thinkers and feelers, and both highly impulsive. Gary saw Duke as almost a father figure, or someone who understood where he was coming from. Duke saw in Gary someone he could make amends for his own personal demons, sort of a 'Big Brother' relationship. It was a fascinating combination.
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Post by desantismt_17 »

I agree that both Duke and Gary were running. I think they were brought together by being two souls in need of someone to understand. Duke gave Gary someone to look up to, and Gary gave Duke someone to pass along all he'd learned to--a way to help someone before they got to the point he'd been at. Duke was able to leave the world knowing he'd helped someone change.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
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Post by ValBookReviews »

I think that they we running from themselves (past lives). And no question, their common life choices drew them together.
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Post by Yolimari »

They had things in common. They both came from broken homes. Both were addicts. Both lived on their own terms and not according to society’s standards. I think Duke saw himself in Gary, and for that reason, wanted to help him stay out of trouble and sober up.
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Post by KRay93 »

There are parallels in the stories of both, especially around addictions and their consequences. I agree that Duke maybe saw something in him, and decided to help him. As for imparting his knowledge, remember that Duke had notes in one of his books about his own interpretations of it, hoping that someone else would read it. Finally, Duke found a new home in the circus, a new family. Maybe he wanted to return that favor by helping someone else, in this case, Gary.
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Post by lavellan »

K Geisinger wrote: 07 May 2018, 12:31 I think each was drawn to the other for different reasons. Duke liked to adopt people, especially those that did not fit into society. When he was younger it was Wubby, Lucy, and the Clowns, but as he got older he still was drawn to the tattooed outsider like Starlight.

Gary is desperate for someone to believe in him or at least to be a close friend. He went from drinking heavily to make friends in high school and college joining the Sacred Heart Community Board and befriending local men who needed help. After he was fired, Duke provided a strong influence both to help him gain some control and as someone with a crazier life story.

The one item I believe did not draw them together was alcoholism. While they both had problems with alcohol at times, Duke had passed that point in his life and held a deep mistrust for drinking. It was more of a barrier than anything else.
I agree about Duke's love for adopting people. I think that Duke likes to feel wanted as he didn't have a purpose with his original family. Since Duke struggled with addiction and not fitting in, I think that Duke understood where Gary was coming from and wanted to help him.
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Post by Mo_Kafie »

Both realised and noticed that they each felt the need to get away from something.
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Post by gkgurley »

Duke saw a lot of his own pain in Gary's life. I think both men are similar in that they were searching for stability and emotional connectedness, something neither of them ever got at home, in bizarre and extreme settings. Gary was mesmerized by Duke, and Duke saw himself in Gary. They have more in common than they do differences.
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Post by tkrapish »

As I read the book I saw some redeeming values in Duke. I think he had a general personality to help people or to see the good in people. There were many instances where he consoled others. Gary came to him. My interpretation was yes he wanted to help Gary, but also he was reminded of when he met the sword swallower and wanted to pass on his knowledge.
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