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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
A Robert Levin Reader is an eclectic mix of entertainment by jazz writer Robert Levin. Part essay, part short fiction stories, and part commentary, this volume will make you an instant fan. Levin uses irreverent humor, but I found his work to also be poignant and sweet in some places. Take the opening story, “When Pacino’s Hot, I’m Hot," for example. Since I'm a Pacino and De Niro fan, I was easily hooked, but Levin's writing is what made the story work, not the fact that it was vaguely about Al Pacino. The idea of the story is that some people in Levin's life thought he looked like certain celebrities, especially Pacino or Dustin Hoffman, so when girls did, he got lucky and he enjoyed it. But the truth is, the women always knew subconsciously that he wasn't Pacino, they just wanted to ride a fantasy. With his self-deprecating description of himself, he is quickly likable, far from the Adonis-type action heroes found in most of today's fiction. But yet, somehow more attractive because of his honesty and humility.
After the first story and onto the next selections, you realize Levin has more than one style and perspective. He takes you on clever imaginative journeys that could make you blush, laugh, or smile. He has the provocative blue humor of a stand-up comedian, and I sense that his heart has always been in music, especially jazz. Fiction only scratches the surface of what Levin writes. He wrote for Rolling Stone and a variety of other top tier publications, as well as liner notes for a myriad of record albums like John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Besides music, he wrote about political and social issues, among other things. It's clear that the man is a born writer, so if you're looking for attitude, funny lines, cringe-worthy moments, and pathos don't pass up A Robert Levin Reader by Robert Levin.