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Death of a Shrinking Violet: Nice Guys Finish First

Death of a Shrinking Violet: Nice Guys Finish First

By: James Robinson, Jr.
Publisher: Amazon Kindle Direct
Publication Date: March 1, 2024
ISBN: 979-8875593482
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: April 1, 2024

James Robinson, Jr. delivers a bevy of humor and food for thought in his latest body of work, Death of a Shrinking Violet, Nice Guys Finish First.

In his first chapter titled ‘Take the Shot,’ Robinson shines the light on the issue of: "...What movie could I watch anytime..." This challenging notion came to him after having read this premise in the entertainment section of a Pittsburgh newspaper. Apparently, this was a question that stuck with him for quite some time until he decided it was time to get down to the nuts and bolts of it all and pick a (or some of) his personal favorite(s). He transcends decades of what he perceived to be ‘favorites’ and decided upon: The Godfather, Forest Gump, The American President, Unforgiven, Tootsie, Scrooged, Shawshank Redemption and The Cider House Rules. It isn’t until he adds 27 Dresses to his list, that I dug a little deeper into his assessments. He dissects a particular scene: "...there’s the scene with Ms. Heigl and all of the bridesmaid dresses—all 27 of them—that she has worn throughout her life. What in the world would keep dragging me back to this picture show? Every time I run across it on the cable movie guide I unwittingly pull the trigger..." (pg. 2) After exhausting his fascination with this particular film, he moves on to a new chapter, but not before penning his final: "...Quiet on the set! Turn off those cell phones! Take One! Action!...’ (pg. 5)

As the chapters grow in number, he fine-tunes his ‘Siskel and Ebert-like’ skillset for the next five chapters filled with vignettes devoted to more movies: Fatal Attraction, Jaws, and Ali. We arrive at Chapter 5 and he changes direction and enlightens the reader on how he donned the name ‘Pap’ as his right of passage into grand fatherhood. He changes direction again in the next chapter and focuses on the proverbial cocktail party and the almighty question from strangers: "...So, what do you do?..." There is a wonderful cadence of humor that is complemented by witty sarcasm that lends way for a quick and entertaining read from beginning to end.

I applaud Mr. Robinson for staying true to his craft from the onset of this book to the very end. His style has a clear anchor of knowing his audience in that he naturally entertains through artful word placement and does it in such a way that the reader wants more because there is no predictability of where Robinson will take him/her at the turn of each page. I was particularly drawn to his view on forgiveness: "...Forgiveness is a gift both for the forgiver and the forgiven. But I haven’t totally mastered the art..." (pg. 149) There’s a lot to unpack in this blissfully direct sentiment! His take on marriage is equally thought-provoking: "...Marriage is not about convention; it’s about strength of character, love, honesty, and endurance—dealing with one another when the wedding bells have long since stopped ringing. Weddings are nice but they can’t help you at crunch time..." (pg. 75) Simply put, truer words have never been spoken. This is a must-read for a diverse audience because, in my opinion, it’s the greatest example of ‘keeping it real’ that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a very long time. Well done Mr. Robinson! May I have another?

Quill says: Death of a Shrinking Violet: Nice Guys Finish First is a fantastic rendition of life and embracing it for what it is without judgment!

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