Wednesday, 18 June 2014


Here's another positive review for RAMBLE ON...   4 OUT OF 5 STARS


The story opens with a middle-aged man, an apparently accomplished writer, having to tell the story of his youth during a twenty-four hour period. All will become clear to the reader towards the end of the story that then unfolds.

This is one man’s story of a life in the fast lane: drugs, sex and rock and roll. Jessie Cayne is a tough kid. Both of his parents have problems, but it’s his father Jessie lives with. And life in the Army means moving frequently, making it hard for Jessie to put down roots but probably an advantage given his involvement in drug-trafficking. So, in the spring of 1983 Jessie and his father move to El Paso. Jessie rides in on his vintage Harley and meets up with Moby McIntyre, the rich boy whose father has a lot of influence around town. Because of his football skill, Jessie quickly joins El Paso’s best high school football team (the Rio Grande Conquistadors). He equally quickly hooks up with the local drug cartel and starts selling drugs to the wealthy kids in his new school. Jessie has a straightforward plan: win a State football championship, earn a scholarship to one of the Ivy League schools and leave poverty behind. Can Jessie achieve his ambitions?

In many ways, while believable, Jessie is immature and unlikeable. Yes, he’s had a tough life and it’s easy to feel some sympathy for him but his choices seem to be made with little thought of the consequences.

‘This was one of those forks in the road moments, one choice leads to a long happy life, the other choice leads to ruin.’

And then, everything starts to go wrong. Jessie lets down his girlfriend Mary, falls foul of Moby, and loses his home and his job. Like a house of cards, Jessie’s plan for the future comes tumbling down. By the end of the story, I felt disappointed by Jessie. He did not appear to have any insight into his behaviour and situation. So this is a story about actions and activity rather than reflection and change. Jessie the man is no more self-aware than Jessie the teenager.

This is an interesting novel, and while I liked the inclusion of song titles and bands (I’m a big Led Zeppelin fan as well), Jessie’s life as a play list didn’t totally appeal to me. The story kept me engaged (a little like watching a train wreck in slow motion) and if reading about drugs, sex and rock and roll appeals, then you may well enjoy ‘Ramble On’.

‘Ramble on, ramble on, ramble on.’

Note: I was offered, and accepted, a copy of this novel for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith