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The Trouble With Gumballs Paperback – May 9, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James—Jim—was born in Denver, schooled there and in New Haven (code word for Yale), spent four WWII years in the Navy, then six in New York as an editor for Business Week. After marriage and the birth of their first child, the happy couple moved to Sonoma, California. Jim freelanced there for five years (code for until the money ran out). One of the original Mad Men of the more relaxed West-coast variety, Nelson spent 23 years on the creative side of a San Francisco advertising agency. His first novel, On the Volcano, was published in 2011. He and Mary-Armour now live happily ever after in Marin County, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rolly Bolly Press (May 9, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615848060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615848068
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,360,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read this book many years ago and never forgot about it. Recently re-purchased it and have enjoyed it over again. Referred and given as a gift to several friends struggling to start their own business. A fun read, worth your time and an great gift.
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Format: Paperback
My girlfriend gifted me this book because I live in Northern California (alas, in Oakland not beyond the Golden Gate Bridge where this book is set). It's funny, but not in that snarky way I'm used to (e.g. Louis CK). Instead the humor comes from how icredibly optimistic the author is, while every person he deals with is comically absurd.

It's about a guy who has to get a job to support his new family, so he starts running gumball machines. Doesn't really matter what it's about, it's less about the plot and more about the crazy characters he encounters. Not usually my thing, because I like plot-driven books, but this one is a good slice of life.

I'd be curious to compare his 1950s experience to that of modern freelancers.
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Format: Paperback
Jim Nelson's adventurous and optimistic spirit is expressed so vividly in this delightful tale. This spirit is a consistent spark that enlivens his personality and allows him to find the ray of hope in life's downturns. Jim's good-natured ribbing of the characters he deals with, and the patience he applies to the setbacks in his burgeoning business, perfectly reflect his strong and unique character. I can vouch for this from the hundreds of conversations we've enjoyed throughout the years, as I have the good fortune to be his neighbor.
I highly recommend all of Jim's other books, too!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book seems to be marketed as a classic. I don't get it. The narrator makes a series of poor choices and lives with the results, while complaining. There does not appear to be redemption - only shifting the consequences of his poor decisions.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Trouble With Gumballs offers up characters as colorful and appealing as its subject. Set in a time when flim-flam was still a surprise, and a good time could be had for a penny, it takes a good humored look at the basics of business and the joy of making an honest sale. The author's willingness to believe in a dream lands him in one tough spot after another but his indomitable spirit carries the day. Appropriate for entrepreneurs age 8 to 108.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even though this story takes place in the 1950's , early 1960's it really holds true for today's con men plastic machine route sellers. A family friend owned 15,000 bubble gum machines in 12 states,and I had a couple of hundred machines myself for several years. I love the parts about the location owners, and I watched history repeat itself with the stick gum vendors.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My enthusiastic rating might not be suitable for every reader's experience. It reflects my delight with the re-creation of people and places and the times I grew up in post war Sonoma County, California. I recommend this escape for anyone nostalgic for self sufficiency, optimism, a day when individuals were respected and characters were highly valued as neighbors (a species of extended family member). The author wonderfully invoked the sweet air and milk-and-honey productivity of countryside Luther Burbank pronounced to be "God's chosen spot in all the earth."
I was whisked back to when an eight year old boy could take 50 cents for trolly fare and spend a safe and magical day in San Francisco. I remembered from a week traveling with a shirt tail relation selling hula hoops all about this region, how being an entrepreneur could make one feel like an active part of history. The book was a great visit to a better day...go there!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I truly enjoyed this book, it was very funny and a new experience, learning about the trials and tribulations of the vending machine business, i.e. Gumballs. It was extra special for me since I know the Author and his wife (They are family.)

Vivi-Anne Riordan
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