In "Quivers: A Life", Robin describes her up-bringing in Baltimore; the physical and mental abuse suffered by her at the hands of her parents, the bigotry, and the rarely felt joys of her childhood. She takes us through an oppressive and dangerous youth, through an aimless young-adulthood, then brings us into her purposeful and mature adult phase.
The story is riveting and Robin the author is both wonderfully descriptive and shrewdly economical in her relation of her life. If one was to read this book only to hear Robin's story, the inspirational impact would be strong and immediate. But to Stern fans, this book is a must-read. In here are tantalizing tidbits about Robin's relationship with Howard, her interaction with the rest of the crew, and her personal take on the radio show's content. In fact, in reading this, one must wonder if all the revelations spilled here will cause trouble among Robin and her work mates. I think it has, but I'll get to that later.
For to just observe the release of the book is to miss the bigger picture of what's really happening to Robin. For starters, after reading "Quivers: A Life", there is no way to possibly listen to the radio show without thinking of Robin in an entirely new light. Here was somebody who was so guarded about her off-the-air identity that a listener would sometimes have to wait weeks for some clue to Robin's personal life. As a result, for me at least, Robin has always carried a sort of untouchable aloofness. Not necessarily of her own doing, but as a consequence of not allowing her life to be examined under the show's microscope. The news-woman on the air sounds so positive, and so confident; it's a literal shock to hear the wounded inner child of Robin's cry out. There is no way to ever view her in the same light again. Even aside from the abuse; just to hear Robin talking about her first bong hit, her flirtation with stripping, her sexual experiences, her therapy; all these fascinating details about her mystery life, there is no way you can now listen to her without feeling much closer to Robin, the person. The shield is down, and will never be able to guard her in quite the same way.
Recently on the Jay Leno show, Robin had to encore her terrific appearance by doing battle with Linda Ronstadt (see Page 7). It was obvious to anybody watching that if it were anybody else that had been sitting in that chair besides a member of the Stern show, Ronstadt never would have opened her mouth with her misguided diatribe the way she did. And although Robin handled herself with intelligence and aplomb, I remember feeling bad for her; that this woman who had to fight through so much anguish in her life had finally had her day, and that this inappropriate over-weight singer was trying to ruin Robin's appearance. The impression I got when listening to Robin describe to Jay how men had lined up at K-ROCK to get their penises painted, was that, although she is an integral part of the show, she also relates heavily with the fans, in that she, herself, is a huge fan of the show. Linda Ronstadt couldn't take that away. Watching Robin on "A Current Affair" was also a further bonding of artist and fan, as we got to see where Robin lives, although there was a shocking omission: no cats!
Things have changed on the air too, for Robin. Where the guys would never really bust her onions, now the floodgates are wide open. From Jackie's ribald readings of her book to the constant referencing of the abuse Robin suffered to the now-constant challenges to her assertion that she is now "cured". The show feels now as if the gloves are off, and that Robin could expect to get the same treatment all the others are subjected to. This was never more evident than in the lie-detector segment, where Robin was strapped to the truth-telling device and interrogated about various show topics including if she was ever in love with Howard.
Then on June 5th, things got weird when after being lightly grilled for arriving late to her book-signing in Cleveland, Robin got up and walked out of the studio while the show was still on the air. From what I understand, that was the first time in the history of the show that Robin's taken this course of action. Howard wondered aloud half-seriously if this was the end of their team. She came back after the commercial, still terse, but back in fighting form.
Clearly, this emergence of the real Robin has drastically shifted the balance of the show. And it's great! The show and the banter between Howard and Robin has never sounded more fresh, more spontaneous, and more real. Now, more than ever, the truth is going on there every day, thanks to Robin revealing who she is, she has really accomplished her mission. I now feel like I know what Robin is about, and I thank God she persevered through all that muck to get where she is today. I'll be listening....