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"To Ron 'Roadside' Cox, I really enjoyed your book. Looking forward to more. Best wishes, John Hart---The Lone Ranger..."
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Divorced after 18 years of marriage, "Roadside Ron" heads west leaving behind his past to start a new life only to find it's not as simple as it sounds.
Coming out of a long term marriage that ended in divorce, Roadside Ron decides to pack up a few belongings and head west to try and find a place to sooth his aching heart. He has three dreams that he hopes to make come true now that he no longer has any responsibilities. He winds up in the California desert where he meets a wise old man named John. He also meets two women, one in the desert, and one in New York City, which upset his plans and turn his life upside down.
Merit award winner for Best first book by a publisher from Midwest Independent Publishers Association.
Iíd been on the road three days when I pulled into Borrego Springs, a little town at the foot of the mountains in the Anza-Borrego Desert about an hour and a half from the California coast. I had to stop to gas up before heading through the mountains.
I spotted Johnís Gas Station just up the road and turned in. It was a station right out of the past. It looked like it came from a fifties movie and the pumps were as old as I was. John limped slowly over to my van, shuffling in his oil-stained, threadbare coveralls. His short gray hair looked like it hadnít been combed in a week. He peered over his horn-rimmed glasses into my window and asked, in a heavy western drawl, ďFillíer up, sir?Ē
New Zealands Writers' Website-Book Reveiws
I don't usually review novels for this website that aren't written by New Zealand authors or published by New Zealand publishers and I may come under scrutiny for reviewing this one, but as Books Editor I feel I have a responsibility of giving recognition where it's due, no matter where the author comes from.
It was the thought-provoking cover which tempted me - a black and white photo of a man standing beside his Harley Davidson motorbike in the desert. This debut fictional novel is the story of a man who goes on a journey both physically and mentally after his marriage break-up. Ron Healy heads West to California where he stops for a while in a small town and meets a wise old man, and a blonde-haired woman who offers him love. While living in a house truck Ron buys his dream bike, a Harley Davidson, and this is the start of his quest to put things right in his life.
The strengths of this novel lie in the characterisation where Ron is portrayed as an ordinary guy whose thoughts echo in us all. The evocative descriptions of life in America and, in particular, the wonderful trips on his motorbike are realistic and all absorbing. Cox's words come across, at times, as philosophical and I found by midway through the novel I was looking to the story to answer some of my own unanswered questions in life.
Sex scenes are played entirely in sync with the character, are explicit and are extremely well written. Interestingly, the story works on another level too which reminds us that there are hidden depths to each human being and that the biker isn't always the drug pusher with violent tendencies he or she is often portrayed to be.
Reading the blurb on the back cover, this novel won a merit award for "Best first book by a publisher" from Midwest Independent Publishers Association. This is certainly a compelling story and one where the characters linger in your mind long after the story is finished.
Reviewed by Loren Teague of NZ Writers Website
4 February 2001
Dead Trees Review
Roadside Ron, Ron Cox, Cox Publishing, 1997
This is the story of Ron, living near Chicago, with two grown children, and happily married, or so he thought. Finding himself suddenly divorced, he packs up his van and motorcycle, and heads west to start over. He gets as far as Borrego Springs, California, and finds himself fixing carburetors in a small gas station owned by an elderly man named John. One of Ronís dreams is to buy a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle and drive it across America. His girlfriend, Billy Jo, who runs a local ranch with her widowed father, is not happy about it, but she understands Ronís thinking.
In a nearby town, Ron runs across another biker, Maddog, with a sick carburetor. Maddog is a big, hulking type who one does not want to get angry. After Ron gets Maddogís bike to purr like a cat, the two become fast friends. Later, Ron is set upon by a group of thugs who want to separate him from his bike. Maddog comes along at the right time with an escape route. Now that his bike is working properly, Maddog decides to visit his mother in Indiana, so the two ride together.
The other reason Ron wants to make the journey is to visit Gloria in New York, a woman with whom he has been carrying on an e-mail correspondence for the past year. After some interesting adventures along the way, and a couple of days visiting his kids near Chicago, Ron meets Gloria in the rich Scarsdale section of New York City. Ron is surprised, to say the least, to learn that Gloria is in an abusive marriage to a rich, powerful man who treats her like pond scum. Ron convinces her that she doesnít have to take it; she gets on his bike, and, after selling her wedding back to the jeweler where it was bought, he gets Gloria on a plane back to her home in Minnesota.
On his way back to California, Ron calls Billy Jo. Her father, who barely acknowledges Ronís existence, tells Ron that she is gone for a week. Ron canít help but think that his trip has destroyed his relationship with Billy Jo.
This is much more than just a biker novel. Itís a tale of following your dreams, of things, and people, not always being what they seem, and riding a motorcycle with no particular destination (a rarity in this rush-rush world). Anyone who has ever been on a motorcycle, or even just drooled over a Harley in a cycle shop, should read this novel. It is strongly recommended.
Paul Lappen Issue # 18
Barny's Review Page
http://www.sonic.net/~barny/ In the novel Roadside Ron, the narrator tells a compelling story of leaving his wife and children in Chicago after a painful divorce and settling in a small town in Southern California. Living alone in an old van parked next to a service station where he works as a mechanic, Ron, now in his forties, saves enough money to buy a nearly new Harley-Davidson motorcycle, which would eventually take him on an intriguing trip to New York and back.
John, the owner of the service station where Ron works, be-comes almost a father-figure in Ron's life. But his new girlfriend Billy Jo is really his main interest, even though her father thinks of Ron as "biker trash." So does Jerry, a fellow they try to avoid at the pool hall on weekends, who thinks he deserves Billy Jo more than Ron.
But Billy Jo's main problem is Gloria, the beautiful girl in New York whom Ron knows only through e-mail and whom he plans to visit when he rides across the country on his Harley.
On that three-week trip, Ron first meets "Maddog", a strong and massive biker who travels to Indiana with him. Then when Ron tracks down Gloria at her expensive home in New York, he is faced with a situation he hadn't expected.
Roadside Ron is a captivating story and portrays the narrator as an honest, compassionate motorcyclist who struggles to fulfill three life-long dreams. But to some readers, he might appear a bit melodramatic when he threatens Jerry with a pistol, and later when he protects Gloria from her adversary.
This story was Ron Cox's first novel, and although some of the dialogue might seem redundant, repeating what readers would assume for themselves, the overall tale is quite absorbing.
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