Does this book prove real-life is stranger than fiction?

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: Does this book prove real-life is stranger than fiction?

Post by gkgurley »

That's interesting, I never for a moment doubted the credibility. It is such a wild story that I found myself thinking, "how could he NOT turn this into a novel?" Novels of any genre use exaggeration to talk about real, human experience. If he exaggerated, great, this is a novel, not a memoir. Making the story even "stranger" as you put it made the lessons at the end all the more obvious. Robinson has such clever storytelling tools.
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Post by amybo82 »

“Based on true events” has a wide berth. To me, it just means that at least one thing in the book has to have been inspired by something that actually happened. I mean, Mary Poppins was based on true events, and we all know how fantastical that book/movie turned out to be! To some extent, you could argue that all books are based on true events because something had to happen to inspire the author to write their piece. Maybe I’m too skeptical, but when a book claims to be based on real events, I go ahead and read it as fiction.
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Post by Norah+Ogutu »

For a start you may think that the events are not real because how does one swallow a sword however after in depth the meeting of the author with the Duke suggests real time and i believe the author is great artist who blends both the imagination and the real events. This is a great book
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Post by cristinaro »

kfwilson6 wrote: 10 May 2018, 14:56 "Based on true events" always makes me wonder. When I read one BOTD, I saw that the Amazon reviews indicated some of the reviewers knew the author and barely any of the story was true. How much has to be true for a book to be labeled "based on true events?" I have no idea where the line is between being "based on" and being "inspired by."

I think the most shocking moment was the second helicopter lift. I kept thinking "NO DUKE, you don't know this pilot!!!" I was terrified but people do those type of stunts and there has to be a starting point.

I think most of the story of Duke is likely true. Gary's portion just aggravated me. 35 years old and still behaving as he was. I think the most difficult to believe aspect of the book was Gary's quick turn around upon Duke's death. Of all the years and experiences he had, why would the death of someone he had spent so little time with been so integral for him? Also, Angel's willingness to be with Gary was hard to comprehend. I just couldn't imagine anyone going after a man who allowed money to be stapled to his chest!!!!

Yup lots of surprises in this book.
I would recommend you reading Nick Hornby's novels High Fidelity or About a Boy to see how the protagonists are middle-aged men who still have no families of their own and continue to act as if they were still teenagers. In feminist criticism, Gary would be the representative of the New Man, who emerges as a reaction to the first and second feminist waves and who rebels against feminist claims and tries to regain his masculinity.
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Post by Iemaixiong »

:D This book seems real and it sells. For us to portray this and be bewildered about it is a creativity. Focusing on the derailed.
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Post by lesler »

The most wild moment in this book in my opinion is the failed attempt at transporting the water animals to the next carnival location. It was nuts! This does prove that real life is stranger than fiction, if this part is true.
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Post by alisonedgee »

well, bear in mind it's only 'based' on true events, theres obviously some embellishment kicking around
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Post by Brittany J »

I find myself often questioning how much really is true when a book is "based on true events." I think some stories truly are stranger than fiction, and if the story is told well, we can at least understand the message and why a character would act a certain way. I think this makes it believable enough to be enjoyed.
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Post by Helen_Combe »

I’m always dubious about ’based on true events’. You never know which bits are true. It’s a bit like the film Fargo which states ’this is a true story’ when it’s totally fictional.
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Post by NL Hartje »

I don't know that it proves real life to be stranger than fiction; it may prove that some real lives are certainly different than the majority populace. :lol2:

I think the way his story was presented works to normalize his choices and "weirdness."
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Post by Bettercallyourbookie »

Consider the validity of the narrator. Do you trust who is telling the story to tell the truth? Depending on the narrator, there's a whole host of reasons they might be considered unreliable.

The attempts to normalize and rationalize strange choices and behaviors indicates to me that this is a case of an unreliable narrator.
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Post by SereneCharles »

I've read so many books that are based on true events and I see no connection to reality. I don't always believe it. So, I end up choosing what I feel is true in the book and what is not.
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Post by 10mile72 »

I kind of took it on faith, but there were some moments that made you cringe. I thought the most horrifying thing was when Duke injured his throat on the Jerry Springer show. Probably some of the stuff was fiction.
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Post by Nmesoma »

Shadow war might be an old book but it echoes fiction rather than reality, or at least I don't want to believe it was. The violence, the cruelty of man towards another, the unity in great divide and the persecution for religion, ethnicity and others serve to introduce us firsthand to what hatred in one man; in this case Hitler can achieve. I still feel anger and resentment whenever I go through a second world war story but I take courage in knowing the majority of us would rather die together than live apart. A fictional story that seemed real was the moon is down , the writer was able to convey war, not as a situation that could be easily won but one that portrayed man's greatest desire; freedom.
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Post by TashaCrispin »

Duke's personal story was so believable but some parts of the whole story seemed too strange. We see some 'based on a true story' stories to just contain bits of reality and a little fiction. I felt like I was reading fiction at one point or another and yes, sometimes I questioned the author's credibility. I guess one of the reasons is my unfamiliarity with these characters. But who knows. The world can be strange out there.
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