The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin

This is the tale of two brothers from Reno who are not having a whole lot of luck.

Frank, who narrates the story is drunk in a motel room when his brother Jerry Lee (himself not sober) bursts in with news that will set them off on a path that you suspect is not going to end well.  This is a very short book but the characters of the brothers are very well drawn.  Bad things do not just happen to bad people and even though the brothers make some terrible choices, I found myself rooting for them.  The boys found themselves on their own at a young age and have never quite managed to get on an even keel.  I found Frank’s concern for his more vulnerable brother particularly touching.  Jerry Lee is a troubled soul who asks Frank to tell him stories to stop the bad thoughts which threaten to engulf him.  So Frank weaves tales of beautiful women and riches which could not be more different to the boys’ current predicament.

When I picked this book up I didn’t realise it was Vlautin’s first novel but I loved the easiness of the writing style and, although, short, it made quite an impression on me.  I have heard good things about Willy Vlautin’s “Lean on Pete” and I definitely plan to read that next.


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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