Recently got into the excellent Richmond Fontaine and via their excellent tunes discovered lead singer Willy Vlautin’s novels. On the strength of the reviews and the fact that Vlautin’s narrative songs are bloody brilliant, I decided to try his prose work and bought the first two, The Motel Life and Northline. Still waiting for Northline to arrive in the post, but The Motel Life is one of them new-fangled electronic books and so arrived instantly via the power of the web. So here’s my hundred word review:
Willy Vlautin’s debut reads like the perfect extension of the downbeat narratives that populate the songs he writes for Richmond Fontaine, his equally brilliant Americana band. This hard luck story of two rootless brothers pissing their lives away in Reno motels has been compared, justifiably so in my opinion, to Steinbeck. Stories told by Frank to brother Jerry Lee are Vlautin’s take on George and Lennie’s dream in Of Mice & Men. Like Steinbeck’s masterpiece, the hope here gives way to tragedy, though Vlautin never truly abandons his protagonist, allowing Frank a glimmer of hope by the closing lines. A fragile glimmer.
If that ain’t enough to convince you to give it a try before the movie adaptation is released next year, here’s the man himself reading from the opening of the novel:
I think the opening chapter of This Motel Life is the best first chapter of a novel I have read in a very long time. If you have a Kindle or Kindle apps on your PC/Mac/Mobile device I urge you to try the sample. Seriously, if the first chapter doesn’t pull you in and have you buying the whole ebook, I’ll eat your Kindle.