Charlie Big Potatoes
Phil Robinson
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Buy *Charlie Big Potatoes* online

Charlie Big Potatoes

Phil Robinson
Regan Books
352 pages
May 2003
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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The leap from love to lunacy proves to be a short one in this tale of a marriage-bound young man's journey into the terrible depths of depression. A writer in his early twenties, Charlie Robinson is someone who seems to have it all: an excellent job, a loving, supportive, and sexy wife-to-be, and all the friends anyone could ever ask for. But somewhere inside him, something is missing, an essential connecting piece that won't fire properly. In truth, internally our boy is empty. On the day of his marriage, during the ceremony itself, he disintegrates, falls to the floor and becomes an alien in his own skin.

In that delightfully Monty Python-ish fashion of heaping irony upon irony, author Robinson manages to turn the hell of mental instability, hospitalization and addiction into laugh-out-loud literary episodes. He describes sessions with the psych ward nurses: "... - to be spoken to like a child holding a fully automatic rifle." Ultimately it is Charlie's grandmother, to whose house he has retreated, that offers him the greatest insights: "You can give big, you can give small, but you can always give."

This screwed-up, neurotic, multi-addicted character - basically your everyday run of the mill working class man/woman - has a decency about him, and in the end, while he doesn't retrieve all that was lost - his job, friends, self-worth - he is once again set to climb from the hole he's dug for himself.

A fine inside look at the intricasies and bear-traps of love, and the heroics required to give more than you take. The Beatles had it wrong: the love you make isn't equal to the love you take. What you receive must be less than what you bestow.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2004

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