Title: Expect No Help: The life and times of Jumpin Jack Flash : Common Sense from an Uncommon Source
Author: Cesspool Jones
Release Date: Available Now
Reviewer: Victoria Kurr
Cesspool Jones’ Expect No Help: The Life and Times of Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Common Sense from an Uncommon Source is an intriguing mash-up of a semi-fictional biography buried within a plethora of rambling tangents. The editorial asides in the life story of Johnny (the titular Jumpin’ Jack) make up the bulk of this book. While certainly engaging, the stream of consciousness style may deter readers expecting something more organized. Jones addresses his reader directly and frequently. Added to this familiarity is Jones’ use of slang and odd, vernacular spellings. An audio version may be a bit more palatable to an average reader. Perhaps then the tangents will feel more natural and less distracting. Non sequiturs are littered throughout the text (the author’s consumption of beverages while writing, television breaks and countless Star Trek references make up just a fraction of these). The verb tense fluctuates as loosely as the book’s chronology – in just one (long) paragraph Johnny goes from kindergarten to having his own children and back. Even a hundred pages into the book, Jones references what the book will be – unfortunately it never quite reaches those predictions.
Yet, even in its chaotic condition, the book is surprisingly fascinating. Jones’ opinions on topics ranging from evolution, religion, pedophilia, parenting, drugs, music and politics (to call attention to just a handful) are both relatable and captivating. It is apparent that he believes in what he writes, and that evident heart makes the book a much more pleasurable experience than its technical flaws would have a reader expecting. But Jones’ authority is undermined throughout by references to his own consumption of alcohol (and consequent misspellings – take him being on his “twenty-ith” beer rather than his twentieth). It does, however, explain the repetitive nature of some of his “tornado tirades.” It also makes the humor more questionable – Jones is definitely funny, but sometimes the humor may miss its intended mark as a result.
In the Acknowledgements, Jones himself recognizes the mess that his narrative is, but with a change in format or a heavier hand in editing (this book approaches the six hundred page mark), the book could be much more accessible. If reformatted as a blog or a collection of essays, the sidetracking, free-form rants could be a lot more digestible. But as it stands, Jones writes with a lot of heart, and truly does present some common sense – albeit more in an uncommon style than as an uncommon source.