"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Review: Northline by Willy Vlautin

In May 2006 Guillermo Arriaga was at Book Soup to present his newly translated novel "The Night Buffalo", which is incredible in a raw/sexy/hungry way few novels these days are, and when quizzed on what he had been reading he recommended "The Motel Life" by Willy Vlautin. And the book was great---Is great.
Vlautin's second novel, Northline, comes out today with a limited edition CD sountrack written and performed by Willy Vlautin and Paul Brainard. And it's wonderful.
In a new American fiction scene dominated by clever McSweeney's hipsters and polished Iowa Writers Workshop grads Willy Vlautin stands apart as an imperfect writer with heart and hope and a genuine love of&for humanity.
His two novels look like kitchen sink realism in fiction. Like a Nevada drifters "The Bicycle Thief."
I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone looking for something different in the new fiction scene.
Bring on the New Realism.

Fleeing Las Vegas and her abusive boyfriend, Allison Johnson moves to Reno, intent on making a new life for herself. Haunted by the mistakes of her past, and lacking any self-belief, her only comfort seems to come from the imaginary conversations she has with Paul Newman, and the characters he played. But as life crawls on and she finds work, small acts of kindness start to reveal themselves to her, and slowly the chance of a new life begins to emerge. Full of memorable characters and imbued with a beautiful sense of yearning, Northline is an extraordinary portrait of contemporary America from a writer and musician whose work has been lauded as "mournful, understated, and proudly steeped in menthol smoke and bourbon"


mar said...
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mar said...

I'm glad for this book, glad you've posted commentary on it here. Though, as an aside and as one of the former BookSoup employees who became Iowa alums, I must say, whoah jack on the reference to polished Iowa Writers' Workshop fiction. Polished it may be, but it's no contrast to work with heart and hope and genuine love for humanity, nor even that which is steeped in menthol smoke and bourbon. Praise be for captivation, no matter convention. Right Willy?