"Roll On takes us as readers out of our familiar world and into that of the long-haul truck driver. Fred Afflerbach, himself once a long-haul driver, brings Ubi and his changing world alive in a way that will touch your heart—and make you hope he finds happiness at the end of his picaresque journey. This novel stands out as new and fresh among many nostalgic reflections of life as it once was."
- Judy Alter, Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement in Western Writing and former director of TCU Press.
"An entertaining and informative cross-country odyssey, Fred Afflerbach’s Roll On traces the life of “the last of a breed,” an almost mythic, independence-minded truck driver, as he transports furniture past famous landmarks, through dense forests, over major rivers, and in and out of congested cities, carrying the reader along on an engaging narrative with telling dialogue and picturesque description. Whether rescuing students in search of the real America or picking up a hippie helper who proves an expert loader of others’ belongings or encountering fascinating figures whose household or business effects, even a grand piano, he moves from west coast to east and points in between, Afflerbach’s wholesome hero regales the reader with a know-how not only for maneuvering the highways in any weather or condition but for dealing with one’s origins and directions, in terms of love, family, and ethical decisions. The novelist knows his subject through and through and tells his compelling story artfully, one full of insights and characters any reader will come to care deeply about."
– Dave Oliphant, noted poet and jazz historian. His latest book is KD: A Jazz Biography.
Even though it’s fiction, Roll On is a stellar addition to your adventure travel collection. Scooch over your copy of William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways and John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley and ride shotgun with trucker Ubi Sunt as he steers Old Ironsides, his ‘56 Peterbilt 18-wheeler, along America’s highways.
Roll past Shiprock, the magnificent throat of a volcano rising 1,500 feet above northern New Mexico’s high desert plain. And see Manhattan anew from Ubi’s rig called a cabover that sits on top of a 350-horsepower diesel. Meet The Chameleon, who offers “polishing, painting and pills” at truck stops, and Mississippi Hippie, a pony-tailed musician who, for cash, helps Ubi load and unload freight and sleeps in the 45-foot trailer.
Freedom and the meaning of life are up for discussion as orphan and widower Ubi copes with progress that threatens his way of life. This resourceful Good Samaritan rescues “four wheelers” and other truckers who don’t have the road smarts that Ubi accumulated during what is now a bygone era of independent trucking. Who but Ubi knows to carry bleach in his magic side box to help improve traction on ice and snow?
If your father or grandfather was a jack-of-all-trades, you will identify with Ubi’s daughter Jeanne, who learned the value of tools and CB radios from her Dad, but now wants him to give up the road—or does she? Jeanne’s twins Molly and Jeremy want nothing of the sort, and excitedly beg Grandpa Truck to bring Old Ironsides to school for show-and-tell.
And don’t overlook the jazz lover and poet in Ubi, who keeps The Complete Works of Walt Whitman and a flashlight in his bunk for night reading.
Someone please send this book to Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones, who know the strong attraction of road stories and will appreciate the fine descriptions: “West of Fort Worth, the land peels back and the sky comes out like opening the curtains on a sunny day.”
Is Fred Afflerbach writing a sequel? Roll on!
-- Elaine Davenport, Publisher, Writer's AudioShop (www.writersaudio.com)