ROBIN, By Dave Itzkoff
I remember sitting with my then-boyfriend watching, ROBIN WILLIAMS: An Evening at the Met, in a basement apartment in Spring Valley in 1986 and having the same sensation I’d expect I’d have seeing an accident unfold in slow-motion. You are mesmerized for sure, but there is a feeling of unease or rather, the realization that you are witnessing the point in which something is about to spin out of control. ROBIN, by Dave Itzkoff, is an in-depth and detailed (almost 500 pages) look at both the performer extraordinaire as well as the deeply flawed man. For those of us growing up in the 70s and 80s, Williams was an ubiquitous presence (Mork and Mindy, The World According to Garp, Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society), but reached the height of his popularity in the following decades with performances hosting Comic Relief, HBO (uncensored) Comedy Specials and hit movies such as, Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin, The Birdcage, and Good Will Hunting, to name a few. The book itself is a comprehensive "Cliff Notes" on the world of American political and cultural events as told through the comedic lens of the day. There appears to be no one Williams didn’t meet and no one escaped becoming fodder for his acerbic wit. One is reminded here of Williams' relationships with, among others, Christopher Reeves, Richard Pryor, Bill Clinton as well as the unsettling fact that he was with John Belushi hours before his fatal overdose. In an almost "Forrest Gumpy” way, Williams was involved in practically all-things noteworthy in the 1970s-2000s that pertained to entertainment and for this reason alone, this biography is entertaining. Truthfully, although I always admired his quick and clever repartee I never was a huge fan; that underlying feeling of manic energy was for me, off-putting. I must admit I have the same feeling after finishing this book.