The Motel Life

The Motel Life

3.8 11
by Willy Vlautin
     
 

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With "echoes of Of Mice and Men"(The Bookseller, UK), The Motel Life explores the frustrations and failed dreams of two Nevada brothers—on the run after a hit-and-run accident—who, forgotten by society, and short on luck and hope, desperately cling to the edge of modern life.

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Overview

With "echoes of Of Mice and Men"(The Bookseller, UK), The Motel Life explores the frustrations and failed dreams of two Nevada brothers—on the run after a hit-and-run accident—who, forgotten by society, and short on luck and hope, desperately cling to the edge of modern life.

Editorial Reviews

Associated Press Staff
“Both heartbreaking and inspirational…written…with a simple hypnotic tone that seems as if it was grown in the Reno heat.”
Booklist
“If there’s any justice, anywhere, The Motel Life will be widely read and widely admired.”
New York Times Book Review
“Slighter than Carver, less puerile than Bukowski, Vlautin…manages to lay claim to the same blearyeyed territory, and…to make it new.”
Salt Lake City Tribune
“A natural for the bigscreen and in fact Babel and 21 Grams writer Guillermo Arriaga has bought the film rights…”
San Francisco Weekly
“The furthest Vlautin’s men can move is in circles, shackled to their dysfunctions and their meager paychecks…”
Jonathan Zwickel
“I’m floored…This book feel so damn real, so powerful, so much like life, even if it’s not yours.”
John Wray
It’s a cliché to compare a novel to a story overheard in a bar, but The Motel Life insists on the comparison. Willy Vlautin is the singer and songwriter for Richmond Fontaine, a band based in Portland, Ore., and the music he makes is very much like his writing: mournful, understated and proudly steeped in menthol smoke and bourbon. Slighter than Carver, less puerile than Bukowski, Vlautin nevertheless manages to lay claim to the same bleary-eyed territory, and surprisingly — perhaps even unintentionally — to make it new.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In a gritty debut, Vlautin explores a few weeks in the broken lives of two working-class brothers, Frank and Jerry Lee Flannigan, who abruptly ditch their Reno motel after Jerry Lee drunkenly kills a boy on a bicycle in a hit-and-run. The two are case studies in hard luck: their mother died when they were 14 and 16, respectively; their father is an ex-con deadbeat; neither finished high school. Frank has had just one girlfriend, motel neighbor Annie, whose mother is an abusive prostitute. An innocent simpleton, Jerry Lee is left feeling suicidal after the accident, despite his younger brother's efforts (à la Of Mice and Men's Lenny and George) to console him: "It was real quiet, the way he cried," says Frank, "like he was whimpering." On returning to Reno, an eventual reckoning awaits them. Vlautin's coiled, poetically matter-of-fact prose calls to mind S.E. Hinton—a writer well-acquainted with male misfit protagonists seeking redemption, no matter how destructive. Despite the bleak story and its inevitably tragic ending, Vlautin, who plays in the alt-country band Richmond Fontaine, transmits a quiet sense of resilience and hopefulness. (May)

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Kirkus Reviews
In the debut novel from Vlautin, member of the country-rock band Richmond Fontaine, misfit brothers, short on luck and long on love, go on the lam in the aftershock of horror. A bike-riding kid is killed in Reno by a hit-and-run drunk. At the wheel is Jerry Lee Flannigan, his mom dead and his dad useless, himself a tragic case who, as a teen hopping a freight to San Francisco, fell under the wheels and lost his leg. Crazed with guilt over the dead boy, he ditches the corpse and splits for Montana in a '74 Dodge Fury, his brother Frank riding shotgun, clutching Jim Beam and Pepto Bismol. A Willie Nelson tape as their soundtrack, the pair embark on an alcoholic odyssey as Frank becomes a slacker Scheherazade spinning tall tales to keep them sane. It's a tough gig-manufacturing whoppers about fleeing blood-drinking, morphine-addled pirates and creating a fantasy future "just working the cattle and growing the alfalfa"-but Jerry Lee thirsts for diversion. Drunk on remorse, he has botched a gunshot suicide bid and lies bored in the hospital, fearing the law and grieving the ghost of his victim. Waiting out the convalescence, Frank frees a sweet mongrel from a backyard chain, and dog in tow, hits blue-denim bars like the Elbow Room, where he shares beer and sympathy with a brokedown posse of comradely hard cases. He tries hooking up with his old girlfriend, a tender-souled waif who'd torn up his heart by turning hooker at her mom's instigation. But mainly, he nurses bottles and his brother, awaiting hope. A simple story, well told.
Associated Press ASAP
“Both heartbreaking and inspirational…written…with a simple hypnotic tone that seems as if it was grown in the Reno heat.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062325938
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/05/2013
Edition description:
Movie Tie-In Edition
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are saying about this

Jonathan Zwickel
“I’m floored…This book feel so damn real, so powerful, so much like life, even if it’s not yours.”

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