Last week, following a writer’s recommendation, I picked up Willy Vlautin‘s The Motel Life, a sweet-sad-simple road story about two brothers in Reno. I enjoyed its simplicity–even the type formatting recalls middle-school reading primers–though that bare-bones style doesn’t recall Raymond Carver as much as critics say. Woody Guthrie lyrics might the better point of comparison–Vlautin loves free-flowing narratives that get told simply, have room for some humor and irony, but are mainly about something gone terribly wrong.
Vlautin, as it happens, is a musician–he plays in the alt-country band Richmond Fontaine–and his second novel, Northline, has just come out in the U.K. (It comes out in the U.S. this summer, in much the same way that The Motel Life came out overseas before arriving here.) The interview with Vlautin in the Guardian suggests another Reno story. Vlautin’s notes that the book has a soundtrack, and features a rare book trailer that I can get behind: