The Motel Life

Willy Vlautin

The hugely moving novel from Willy Vlautin, reissued with a new cover direction.

3 in stock

Date Published
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Opening like an early Tom Waits barstool-tale, The Motel Life tells the story of two brothers, Frank and Jerry Lee. Taking to the road in an attempt to escape the hit and run accident caused by Jerry Lee, the novel goes back to tell the story of their unhappy lives. With intense feeling and compassion, Vlautin explores the frustrations and failed dreams of the two brothers – one a natural storyteller, the other an artist – and renders perfectly the sense of entrapment they feel. Will the kid’s death shock them out of their torpor or send them ever deeper into trouble? Can Annie James, a girl from their past, offer them any sort of redemption, however slim?

Interspersed with drawings that come to form an integral part of the narrative, The Motel Life is a poetic, moving, beautifully naïve and tragic fictional debut. Alongside such seminal works as Annie Proulx’s Postcards, Raymond Carver’s What we talk about when we talk about love and Denis Johnson’s Jesus’s Son, it should come to be seen as a classic of downbeat American prose.

Critic Reviews

If McMurtry, Johnson, McGuane and Carver need a fifth to make up a literary five-a-side team, they need look no further than Willy Vlautin. The Motel Life is about the moving acceptance of life as bad luck, heartbreak, and a consistently thwarted but resolutely unkillable hope. Redemption comes through story-telling, and this is a tale told in a beautiful tone of deadpan wonder.

Niall Griffiths, author of Grits and Wreckage
Critic Reviews

Acclaim for Willy Vlautin and Richmond Fontaine:
'Exquisitely bittersweet ... reading his lyrics made me wonder if it shouldn't be reviewed as our Book of the Month.'

Critic Reviews

'A fabulous addition to the all-too-slim canon of passionate, literary rock'n'roll.'

Critic Reviews

There are two particularly good fictional debuts: first, Willy Vlautin's The Motel Life, which echoes Of Mice and Men. The story of two brothers, it is set in a contemporary world of American highways, cheap diners and rundown lodging houses. The odds are stacked against the two, but the sadness of it all is mitigated by the resonance of the prose and a feeling I can only describe as "this is as it really is".

Rodney Troubridge, The Bookseller

Willy Vlautin is the author of five novels, including The Motel Life; Lean on Pete, which was shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and made into an acclaimed film by Andrew Haigh; and Don’t Skip Out on Me, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Vlautin lives outside of Portland, Oregon, and is the founding member of the…

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