Ubi Sunt, a long-haul trucker driving an aging Peterbilt named Old Ironsides, has spent his life trying to balance the difficulties and stresses of a family life with the isolating yet magnetic draw of living on the road. While Ubi thinks he has successfully maintained this juggling act over the last three decades, his daughter only has deep-seated memories of missed birthdays, holidays, and graduations. As her children begin to reach the age of soccer games and school plays, she finally tells her father that if he wants a relationship with his grandchildren, he'd better settle down--drive local and be home--or forget it.
Anxious to see the only family he has left after the death of his wife, but not quite ready to drop anchor and retire, Ubi decides to hop in his truck and head East. As he makes his way from the palm trees and beaches of sunny California to the narrow brick roads and fast-paced city life of Philadelphia, he notices dramatic changes in the American landscape: jammed toll roads lined with fast-food restaurants and hotel chains; a younger generation of truckers hurrying past like packs of wolves with their twin-turbo six-hundred-horsepower diesel engines, only thinking of the next buck and never learning the 'code of the road.' Additionally, the family-owned company he has worked at for over thirty years has been broken up by investors and their network of warehouses, and replaced by cheap rental yards and portable offices in industrial parks, threatening his job safety.
Ubi's transcontinental trip across the Painted Desert, the Black Hills of South Dakota, and lush landscapes of Minnesota, through America's breadbasket into the gritty Northeast, allows the reader to view this country from the standpoint of an old-school long-haul trucker via his spy glass: the windshield of a big rig.
"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 heartand 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.
5 x 7
FRED AFFLERBACH retired from the truck world and went back to school at the age of fifty, earning English and Mass Communication degrees from Texas State University in San Marcos. He is now a freelance journalist and middle school tutor. He has won a number of journalism prizes, including three first place awards from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors Awards.