It was a slow day at the word factory. Hot too. Took care of business and then went wandering round town with no particular purpose. Bought a new capot and then stopped by the Union Store, our local Americana music shop, for a browse when I spotted these two novels.
‘The Motel Life’ came out in 2006, ‘Northline’ in 2008. Vlautin has a band called Richmond Fontaine. The second book comes with a soundtrack, music to listen to while reading the book. I got home and read The Motel Life straight through. I’m a quarter way into ‘Northline’, taking a break to write these words.
Vlautin is a great storyteller. He just grabs your attention and never lets go. Both books are set in Reno, Nevada and feature stories from the street with strong believable characters who speak in a real life way. His books mix humour and tragedy. No false notes. Bukowski, Fante, Carver, Kerouac, Dylan come to mind but Vlautin is very much his own man.
‘The Motel Life’ begins with our hero in bed, so drunk he thinks he’s going to puke when, next moment, a duck crashes through the window and lies dead on the floor. He staggers out of bed, throws the duck out of the window and goes back to sleep after turning his electric blanket to 10.
Vlautin has a third novel out called ‘Lean on Pete’ for which he won the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction which I’m going to hunt down.
Check out his website: www.willyvlautin.com/