Friday, November 07, 2014
Friday's Forgotten Books, November 7, 2014
THE MOTEL LIFE, Willie Vlautin
After seeing the movie on Netflix, I had to read the book. It seemed like a film that was amazingly faithful to the book, and indeed, it was.This was the first novel of musician Willie Vlautin and written in 2006.
Frank and Jerry Lee Flannigan live a meager existence in Reno, Nevada, staying in cheap motel rooms, working at odd jobs and drinking heavily. One night, while driving drunk during a blizzard, Jerry Lee accidentally hits and kills a teenage boy. Although the accident is the boy's fault, there are no witnesses, and Jerry Lee is certain that the police will arrest him. This accident drives the plot of the novel for both brothers.
Both men are so damaged by their difficult childhoods that they are incapable of making good decisions. They drink too much, hang around with the wrong people, gamble. And yet they are likable and your heart goes out to them. There are few evil characters in this novel for all its angst. Most of them try hard to do what's right. It's circumstances that undo them.
One of the nicer features of this book is that Frank tells Jerry fictional stories throughout the novel. Stories meant to allow them both to escape their lives.
THE MOTEL LIFE is an excellent character study of young men who live on the margin of society and demonstrates ably how escaping THE MOTEL LIFE is darn near impossible.
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