When Pacino’s Hot, I’m Hot, by Robert Levin
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(The Drill Press; January 25, 2008; $10.00)
Reviewed by Ócháni Lele
Litdotorg boasts an amazing array of talent; every day, I encounter yet another member who not only writes for litdotorg, but also for an array of professional and semi-professional publications in both the cyber and real world. When I stumbled across some of Robert Levin’s work on our pages, and learned that he wrote and published a book early in 2008, I was beside myself. I had to have a copy, and I had to have it now.
Those who know me know I always get what I want! Within two short days, Levin had sent me, personally, a copy of his published volume. Life came to a standstill as I ripped open the package and sat down on my sofa.
“All right,” Robert Levin wrote in his volume, “maybe my book fell a hair or two short of greatness, and for sure, it hadn’t sold very well – even my parents, went my standard joke, waited until it was remaindered to buy their copy. Still, my book had made it onto a library shelf. A library shelf!”
That was the first passage I read in Robert Levin’s collection of essays as I sat there, sipping a diet coke and flipping mindlessly through the pages of this slim volume. The essay was titled, “The Author,” and being an author myself, I’d found a point where I could begin connecting with his work. I was hooked. Cautiously, I let myself giggle a little, but soon I was so engrossed in the humor and political incorrectness of the book that I blew soda out of my nose. Seriously!
In the space of 91 pages, Levin examines, dissects, desiccates, and illuminates everything from love, sex, smoking, conception, mistaken identity, art, writing, and politics; and he does it through a bevy of characters conjured from his own life-experience. More important, he does it all with a wry sense of humor and an eloquence of language that can only be described as masterful.
To be honest, Levin hasn’t written a "book" in the classical sense of the word; he’s written a feverishly funny exploration of his own life and social/political views, tying it all together with the title of his opening essay, “When Pacino’s Hot, I’m Hot.”
In truth, Pacino has gotten cold in his old age, and I doubt he’ll ever be at the top of his game again, but Levin is hot with his writing. Spend ten bucks on this amazingly humorous read, written by one of litdotorg’s finest. It will provide you with an enjoyable evening of laughter and wit.
About the author: Robert Levin is the coauthor and coeditor, respectively, of two collections of essays about jazz and rock in the '60s: "Music & Politics" (with John Sinclair), World Publishing, and "Giants of Black Music" (with Pauline Rivelli), Da Capo Press. Among numerous other places, his stories and commentary have appeared in, or on the web sites of, Absinthe Literary Review, Best of Nuvein Fiction, Cosmoetica, Eyeshot, New York Review, Rolling Stone, Sweet Fancy Moses, Underground Voices, The Village Voice and the Word Riot 2003 Anthology.