Where do you start with a new series designed to show appreciation for people whose work deserves a proclamation of support? It seems appropriate to begin with an author who I was introduced to right at the start of my blogging about books and made me realise just how lucky I was to have been welcomed into this world. When I received a review copy of The Last Days Disco I had no idea what to expect but I was quickly swept up in the heavy dialect and deep emotions of this debut novel and have been hooked on his writing ever since. So, this is my love letter to incredibly talented David F Ross.
Whenever I review David’s work I always come back to the same overarching theme, he has a “gift for expressing life”, a way of opening up fundamental truths about what it means to be alive, trying to do the best that you can in a world that defies understanding. The time we have as sentient beings on this tiny planet spinning round a huge ball of fire is both brief and bewildering and David’s novels somehow manage to remind me to marvel at it all, however ridiculous it might seem and however badly I often feel I am navigating my way through it.
There are scenes of immense human insight throughout his books. The sheer agony of life that is experienced in the face of brutal war, with its physical and psychological burdens that we place on young men and women in order to carry out, quite often narrow and questionable, political agendas. The grief that causes us to retreat from the world into a shell of isolation. A beautiful empathy across generations in the face of a fellow person disgraced, that if we all grasped it might transform our culture and remove the spiteful, demeaning and vitriolic voices that so often seem to dominate it.
You might wonder how it is possible to get to big philosophical questions from the localised, small town, West Scotland characters that reside in his books but that is the whole point. Technology has shrunk the physical world and allowed us to reach our arms right around it, but we live our lives for the most part at a local level. Our social media mindsets sometimes try to convince us that our sphere of influence is greater than it really is and by doing so can rob us of our true importance to the places we actually reside in.
What strikes me most about David’s work is how it moves me beyond the events in the books. When you have spent time laughing, crying and struggling with his fictional characters it makes you look at your own relationships and daily interactions in a different light. How many of us roll through most of our days with only superficial connection to the other people around us, or even worse a judgmental connection? I would hazard a guess that it is quite a few. Perhaps the experience of shared joy and pain in reading can encourage us to dig a little deeper and live amongst our communities in the same messy, imperfect but wonderful way they do.
This is what elevates David’s writing to a 5 star level. His books are entertaining stories with lots of laughs and adventures along the way, but his ability to render his characters with such honesty and wisdom strips the reader of their own preconceptions and prejudices. It is vulnerable writing that in turn creates vulnerable reading and leaves us standing in front of a mirror naked, our false egotistical projections removed, with no other choice than to accept the ludicrous, beautiful folly of our situations, our fellow humans and, perhaps most importantly of all, ourselves.
Body of Work
The Last Days of Disco – The first in the Disco Days trilogy follows the adventures of school friends Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller as they try to break into Ayrshire’s mobile disco scene. Read my review here.
The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespers – A young Ayrshire band is catapulted to international stardom on the back of a smash hit record, but can they ride this wave in the face of personal rivalries, local gangsters, the delusional Max Mojo and… erm… Boy George? Read my review here.
The Man Who Loved Islands – Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller are depressed, lonely and estranged. In a desperate search for hope and reconciliation, can they pull off the impossible and reunite the legendary Ayrshire band, The Miraculous Vespas, for a one-off Music Festival – The Big Bang – on a remote, uninhabited Scottish island?
Welcome to the Heady Heights – Archie Blunt is a man with big ideas. Following a bizarre brush with the light-entertainment business fame and fortune appears to beckon, but there’s a complication; a trail of irate Glaswegian bookies, corrupt politicians and a determined Scottish WPC known as The Tank are all on his tail. Read my review here.
What Others Say
“Huge fan of his books. I loved the small-town, sprawling cast, intertwining plotlines and social commentary which evoke memories of the late, great Iain Banks. The books just ooze nostalgia and a joyous love of the music of the eras they’re set in.”
“David Ross captures the voice of Scotland’s real characters. The dodgy, the chancers and the guys who know they have been dealt a crap hand but just get on with it. The observational humour is spot on and these books are character-driven gems.”