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Arts & Culture

Book Review: 'Bouncing Off Guardrails'

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"Who the hell is waking me up by ringing my fucking doorbell at 2:30 am? It must be Sunshine, but why doesn't she just use her key? Wait a minute, she's laying next to me....
No one is out there...I'd swear on my left nut, even if it is the blown one, that I heard that damn doorbell.

As I close the door and lower the heavy revolver to my side I think about what day it is and realize it's Wednesday. I die one week from today."

So begins the self-told story of Axe, a rough-riding, hard drinking biker who passes from a life on the edge to something like sobriety, courtesy of his experience of surviving open heart surgery. Axe (no idea what his mother named him) is no professional writer, but that's part of what gives the read its charm. Much of the action takes place in Colorado and Texas, including San Antonio. The descriptions of places and people avoid tendencies to paint a storybook scene — following the author's own life, there are plenty of quirks that a pro would leave out. Often, these details break up the picture, slow the pace down, but do add to autobiographic believability.

This is, after all, a confession, and though the self-published author seems more wanting to emulate the wise-cracking style of Raymond Chandler than the prose of St. Augustine, the trajectory of the tale is true to the I-found-solid-values-after-a-life-of-sin story. Kind of, and that's the good part. Prior to his near-death experience, Axe's life had been a cycle of, "Workaholic, laziness, sobriety, alcoholic, conservatism, bankrupt, abstinence, promiscuity, commitment, starvation, and gluttony..." But the author is no hillbilly biker. He's got a good tech job, courtesy of a college education. Maybe that helped. On his path towards moderation, he keeps his motorcycles, keeps the girl, and quite a bit of vanity, too. If only all transformation stories had such a happy ending. 

Bouncing Off Guardrails
By Axe
iUniverse, Inc.
$18.95, 224 pages

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