The Rise And Fall of The Miraculous Vespas
by David F. Ross
Rock ‘n’ Roll doesn’t necessarily mean a band. It doesn’t mean a singer, and it doesn’t mean a lyric, really. It’s that question of trying to be immortal. Malcolm McLaren
The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas is the timeless story of the quest for such pop immortality. When a young Ayrshire band miraculously hits the big time with the smash hit record of 1984, international stardom beckons. That’s despite having a delusional teenage manager guided by malevolent voices… Can Max Mojo’s band of talented band of social misfits repeat their success and pay back an increasingly agitated cartel of local gangsters? Or will they have to kidnap Boy George and hope for the best? Features much loved characters from The Last Days of Disco.
After reading and absolutely loving The Last Days Of Disco, (one of my top 10 books of last year. You can find my review here), I couldn’t wait to read David F. Ross’s next offering: The Rise And Fall Of The Miraculous Vespas, and I was not disappointed.
This is another fabulous read. It is the second in a trilogy about life in 1980s Kilmarnock, Scotland. But although I would definitely say start at the first book, you don’t need to, this can be read as a standalone, but then you’ll want to read the first book: so why not?
In this book our hero is Dale Wishart, son of local gangster, James ‘Washer’ Wishart. When we first meet Dale, he is lying comatose in hospital after a bad beating, when the voice known as Max Mojo begins pounding in his head. Within days Dale has changed his name by deed poll and is looking for a band in his search for immortality.
The band itself is not without characters; singer and guitarist Grant Delgrado, originally Grant Dale; Maggie, the drummer; and the brothers Sylvester; Simon, a kleptomaniac and Eddie, the hypnotised agrophobic with a pressing need to wear a motorcycle helmet.
The Vespas make it to the very top, appearing on the live Christmas edition of Top Of The Pops: the pinnacle of achievement in the 80s. Unfortunately nothing is straightforward for the boys from kilmarnock and their meteoric rise is short-lived.
But the journey is a rip-roaring one. And just as in ‘Last Days‘ the music provides an unforgettable backdrop and anyone that lived through the era will recognise much of it
A lot of the characters are new, but it’s a welcome return for the loveable gangster, Fat Franny Duncan. Unfortunately for him his empire is on the wane and he has his hands full looking after his beloved mum who is not so good.
The humour is just superb. David Ross totally gets the working class lad: the banter, the mayhem, the ‘nothing to lose’ attitude. But there is also the undercurrent of violence with the different factions; the local gangsters and the revenge-seeking hard men from Glasgow. Not everyone is having a laugh.
As with the first book this one is written in the local dialect and it is this more than anything that gives the book its honesty.
This is another triumph for the author, it has it all; music, humour, love, rivalry and it’s very sweary and very human.
Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda books for sending me a copy.
David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964, and he lived in various part of the city until the late ‘70s. He subsequently moved to Kilmarnock, where he has lived since. He was educated at James Hamilton Academy until being politely asked to leave. (Expulsion is such a harsh word, isn’t it?) Following a frankly ludicrous early foray into sporadic employment (Undertakers, Ice Cream Parlour, Tennis Groundsman, DJ … he’ll save these stories until he knows you better), David found himself at Glasgow School of Art, studying architecture. In 1992, he graduated from the Mackintosh School of Architecture. He is now the Design Director of one of Scotland’s largest, oldest and most successful practices, Keppie Design. (Funny old world, eh?)
David’s most prized possession is a signed Joe Strummer LP, and The Last Days of Disco was his first novel, The Rise And Fall Of The Miraculous Vespas his second. He is currently working on the the third and final instalment The Man Who Loved Islands.
You can purchase The Rise And Fall Of The Miraculous Vespas here
You can purchase The Last Days Of Disco here
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