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Questions about Robin

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message 1: by Mak (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mak Wey | 4 comments Hello! I hope you all enjoyed reading this book as much as I did. Please find the questions for discussion below. If you'd like some mood music as you ponder your answers, click this link! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfesr...

1. This book seems to exist for the purpose of demystifying the life and death of Robin Williams. What was your perception of Williams prior to reading the book, and did that change in any way?

2. Itzkoff chooses to start the book with some extensive background on Robin Williams' parents, going into family history on both sides to the 3rd generation. Did you see any aspects of Robin Williams' family history reflected in his life? Were these aspects beneficial or detrimental?

3. A sub-theme in this biography is the idea of a comic being someone who has overcome or is dealing with tragic circumstances/history through humor. Do you agree with the idea of comedy as a flip-side to tragedy, and did you see that reflected in the life of Robin Williams in any way?

4. What damage, if any, do you think Robin Williams survived on his maturation from prep-school student to successful film and television actor?

5. What did you think of Robin Williams' approach to love and relationships? He seemed to have many friends/lovers but relatively few partners/confidantes. Is this due to a damaged view of relationships on Robin Williams' part, a casualty of fame and fortune or both/neither?

6. How well or poorly did you think that Williams handled the trappings of celebrity? Do you believe that it served him by giving him an outlet or restrained him by forcing him to perform?

7. Alcoholism and depression seemed to be large contributing factors to the failure of Williams' second marriage, even after a decades long period of sobriety and career success. What do you estimate were the lasting effects of addiction and depression on the life of Robin Williams? Can one ever become an ex-addict?

8. Among Robin Williams' most prized possessions was his mind, its rapidity and relentless creativity. This made it all too tragic when he began to lose his mind towards the end of his life. Do you think Robin was in his right mind when he chose to end his life? Does it seem like a choice he would have made to you?

9. What personal impact, if any did Robin Williams' life, work and death have on you?

10. Is there anything more you wish you knew or understood about Robin Williams after reading this book?

Allie (bookbabe12) | 33 comments Mod
1) I learned later on in his career that he wasn't always a family-appropriate comedian and I remember the fact surprising me at the time. I was still surprised to read about some of his work, humor, and habits in this biography. My generation grew up with him largely being the ultimate of kid comics in films Aladdin, Ferngully, Flubber and Hook so to learn more about the man and his behaviors (drugs, adultery, etc.) fleshes him out more as a human instead of the caricature that I perhaps knew him as before.

2) While I found the background family information interesting, I still saw Robin as his own person very much. Instead of explaining where he got certain traits from, I think the text does a good job of explaining where some of his reactions may have come from (he was alone and wanted approval, so always acting out and being funny and needing to be loved, etc.)

3) I 100% believe that the best way to survive tragedy and depression is through humor, no matter how dark.

7) I often think that maybe one can't become an "ex-addict" per se. That what they are addicted to just takes the form of something healthier or different (religion, coffee, exercise, etc.) Most of us are addicted to something and I think running from it and relapsing back into it is inescapable in some ways.

8) I think he was in his right mind. Based on his fear of losing what's funny and how audiences/peers would perceive him, I think it was a very real fear to him. How he would function and be received under such a handicap probably drove him towards his decision to end his life. You see other actors struggle after critical diagnoses (think Michael J. Fox) and I don't think Robin ever wanted his bright star to burn out completely.

9) More than anything, I think the spirit of his film roles and that he brought to the public really impacted me and resonated with me growing up. He once visited the camp I went to for children with life-threatening diseases and, even though I wasn't there during his visit, I heard a great story about his interaction with the kids. One little girl said she wanted to be a ballerina if/when she grew up and he joyously said, "Why wait?! Let's start now!" and played with her. It's that kind of spirit he brings to films like Good Morning, Vietnam and the Dead Poets Society among so many others. He seemed, at least to me, to be unlike any other. And I know that Hook is my personal go to even now as an adult. What a great reminder of what actually matters in life.

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