Sunday, March 23, 2014

California Punk / Alex Ramirez

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words

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Here’s how Alex describes himself:

“I'm a writer in the same sense as punk rockers were musicians - they make music, I write stories. But every other preconceived notion you may hold about those mediums you may as well throw out the window. The only objective is to elicit an emotion from the audience, to take them from where they were and bring them to some place new.

Loud, offensive, vulgar. These are the things that I strive for in my writing; as a writer I want to punch you in the face and make you feel something - even if it is only quick shot of pain. Enjoy!”


Jessie takes a road trip with his buddy, Carlos, and Carlos’s cousin, Jonah, starting in California and ending in Las Vegas where they get stoned and drink a lot of alcohol. Then they run out of money and go home.


The story is written as a ‘stream of consciousness’ from the first person perspective of Jessie. The guys are aimless in California, and even more so when they get to Nevada. Much of the novel is taken up with Jessie’s internal musings on life, or his inability to achieve simple tasks, such as buying bread, or remembering where he is or how he got there, or where he was going!

From the moment they set off, all three are either drunk—in fact the rate of alcohol consumption beggared belief, or stoned—the rate of joint consumption also left me doubting that these guys would be able to roll the joints never mind walk The Strip as often as they did. But mostly they were both drunk and stoned.

As a consequence of the drugged out state of our narrator, much of the narrative reminded me of one of those grand ideas one gets when high, only to discover when the idea is revisited, sober, it’s at best impractical or, more commonly, plain dumb. For me, that about sums up this novel.

Consider, though, that the writing is technically sound, and this appears to be the author’s first novel. Also remember, I’m an old fart, so maybe some twenty-something stoner could enjoy the story—assuming they stayed high long enough to finish.

The author failed in his objective to bring this reader to some place new. As a consequence, this book is a two-star for me. Quite honestly, I struggled to finish, and it’s pretty short.

But if you get stoned when you read, it might rate higher because you’d possibly grasp the true depth of meaning in the words, when considered against the cosmic realm of all things ever written.

Format/Typo Issues:

Too few to mention.

Rating:  ** Two stars

1 comment:

Keith Nixon said...

Love the final paragraph Pete