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Kent Robbs lives in his own dark, sad world, and he isn’t sure what it would take to turn him into someone who could fit with the rest of society. An amazing guitarist, he’s nevertheless cursed with stage fright that keeps him from truly using his gift. After a run of bad luck that is literally fiery, someone finally lends him a hand.

Musician and music producer Gino Favori hires Kent to play in his band. In a relatively short amount of time, Kent makes friends for life and even falls for the band’s sultry lead singer, Erin. Although his demons continue to haunt him, he is determined not to squander this opportunity and what may be his last chance at success.

When the band goes on tour and finds the situation overwhelming, Kent becomes the one to pull them together. He dismisses his own issues and puts his bandmates on his shoulders, carrying them so they can see over the clouds. But Kent’s luck is never that good for long. Once he finds himself over the hell he created for most of his life, it looks like the band, his love life, his sanity, and the world may crumble in spite of him.

The service in the loan office wasn’t a great help either. Shaniqua, his loan specialist, wouldn’t even look at him unless it was to scowl at him if he took too long to answer one of her tirades of questions for personal information. What made it worst was that Kent was attracted to her. She had blonde hair (of course dyed), green eyes (contacts), smooth caramel-colored skin (that was real), and nice, thick lips. The whole ensemble transformed her. She looked like the queen of all payday loan offices. He just wondered why she hated him. Then he figured that she was simply like everyone else. Everybody hated him, in his eyes. He figured the only reason he noticed her hate so clearly was because she was one of the few lucky people to interact up close with such a weirdo. He left with shame and two hundred dollars in twenties. Back on State Street, hell was about to rip through the fabric of space and time, and he was going to burn for being a helpless sinner. He thought, If people hate me, shouldn’t at least God be different and love me? But we’re made in God’s image, so the people hate me because God does. So this hate that everyone has just by the sight of me is what I deserve. Does that mean the devil loves me? Of course he doesn’t. He hates all humans. So God, people, and the devil all hate me. Do I hate myself?

Victor Penro was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Writing from an early age, he is the author of short stories and screenplays. Penro currently lives in Florida.

CRUMBLE is the story of Kent Robbs, a young guitar player with not a lot of confidence or friends. He plays alone, lives alone, is a soft touch for one heroin addict.

A chance meeting hooks him up with a newly formed band in need of a guitar player and, though with a false start or two, he soon becomes the backbone of the band when it goes on tour in Mexico. He's the one who keeps the doubts away and makes the tour a success.

Even though Kent is a young black man, I saw parallels with myself, the doubts and loneliness. That he pulls himself up, grows, is the heart of this novel.

A great read.
Randy Johnson 

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