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Richard Nash

For what it is worth to anyone, I was dying to publish this book....

Richard (from Soft Skull)

steve t

Changing courses to take on a couple of unique voices from two of the larger publishing houses, we stop first at HarperCollins and their imprint Harper Perennial which generously offered me a copy of Willy Vlautin's debut novel The Motel Life.

Music savvy Nougat readers may know Vlautin from his work writing songs for and leading the alt-country band Richmond Fontaine. As with Vlautin's songs The Motel Life depicts lonesome characters on the edge of both society and despair in a heartbreaking but uplifting snapshot of human frailty, flawed character, and the instinct to survive.

In The Motel Life, while driving young Jerry Lee Flanagan accidentally kills a young bicyclist and panics, then scoops up the body and puts the boy in his backseat. By force of terror and instinct he rushes to the motel room he lives in with his older brother Frank and confesses all. Panic spreads from brother to brother and the two decide to flee town and thus begin life on the run.

As they pass long hours in the car, Jerry Lee is consumed with the death he has inadvertently caused, and Frank, a natural storyteller, takes Jerry Lee's attention away from their current predicament by recounting to Jerry Lee stories of their shared past. In this way readers are provided with a biographical context for these forlorn characters.

The book continues as the Flanagan brothers' circumstances take turns for the better and worse, but the underlying love, trust, and empathy the two share shines on thus providing an essential positive element to the novel.

It's worth mentioning too that at the end of the The Motel Life Harper Perennial has included a feature unique to their titles which they call "P.S. Insights, Interviews & More," which provides additional information about the author and the book.

In this particular case, the P.S. section contains an interview with the author, a guide to the Flanagan brother's Reno(and the author's favorite hotspots and dives), suggested music to read the book by, information about the artist who created dozens of wonderful ink drawings for the chapter headings, and some song lyrics written by Willy Vlautin.

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