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The Motel Life Movie Tie-in Edition: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – November 5, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reissue edition (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062325930
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062325938
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,300,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a gritty debut, Vlautin explores a few weeks in the broken lives of two working-class brothers, Frank and Jerry Lee Flannigan, who abruptly ditch their Reno motel after Jerry Lee drunkenly kills a boy on a bicycle in a hit-and-run. The two are case studies in hard luck: their mother died when they were 14 and 16, respectively; their father is an ex-con deadbeat; neither finished high school. Frank has had just one girlfriend, motel neighbor Annie, whose mother is an abusive prostitute. An innocent simpleton, Jerry Lee is left feeling suicidal after the accident, despite his younger brother's efforts (à la Of Mice and Men's Lenny and George) to console him: "It was real quiet, the way he cried," says Frank, "like he was whimpering." On returning to Reno, an eventual reckoning awaits them. Vlautin's coiled, poetically matter-of-fact prose calls to mind S.E. Hinton—a writer well-acquainted with male misfit protagonists seeking redemption, no matter how destructive. Despite the bleak story and its inevitably tragic ending, Vlautin, who plays in the alt-country band Richmond Fontaine, transmits a quiet sense of resilience and hopefulness. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Booklist

Author Vlautin, a member of the critically acclaimed alt-country band Richmond Fontaine, has crafted a beautifully artless first novel. It tells the story of Frank and Jerry Lee Flannigan, who are on the run because of a hit-run-and-run accident in which Jerry Lee was involved. Eschewing compound sentences and even similes, Vlautin illuminates the lives of two decent young men from Reno who have been dealt a very bad hand; their mother died when they were teens, and their father, a thief and an inveterate gambler, left years before. They live in down-at-the-heels motels, drink too much, and work at dead-end jobs. Jerry Lee is a self-described "loser"--but with a conscience. He fails at suicide occasioned by grief, but Frank is there, inventing naive stories to keep him going. It's as ineffably sad as a lyric by Willie Nelson, but it's also a richly compassionate and sweetly sad meditation on what Billy Clyde Puckett in Dan Jenkins' Semi-Tough (1972) called "life itsownself." If there's any justice, anywhere, The Motel Life will be widely read and widely admired. Thomas Gaughan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Willy Vlautin is the author of four novels: The Motel Life, Northline, Lean on Pete, which won two Oregon Book Awards, and The Free. He is the singer and songwriter of the band Richmond Fontaine and lives in Scappoose, Oregon.

Customer Reviews

Willy writes in a hurry and that's too bad.
Patsy Woods
As in Lean On Pete, Vlautin creates a convincing plot, but also the 'story within a story' notion as the characters develop.
thesurveillance
A brilliant book that took my breath away more than once and then put it back again every time.
nigel p bird

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lemon Magic on May 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
I picked this one up on the strength of the copy on the back page and critic's quotes on the cover, and I'm glad I did. The setting is so bleak and the characters so desparate and destitute that it was hard for me to get started, but once I settled in, I found plenty of warmth and tenderness to balance out the hard luck stories of the two main characters.

The novel isn't perfect - it's a little too derivative of "Of Mice And Men" to be considered an original work. And the plot simply doesn't have a lot of depth or development to it; the flashbacks and the stories the younger brother makes up to pass the time aren't enough to flesh the book out into a major work. But you can't beat "The Motel Life" for atmosphere or dialog. The "extras" at the end of the book (interview with the author, author's guide to Reno. etc) are a nice touch, so I can't really complain about the short page count for the price of a trade paperback.

Really good stuff. I hope Vlautin continues to write and to grow as an author.

I liked this book a lot.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kiwifunlad on January 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
The down and out directionless lifestyle novel is a genre I would not normally read. If this book had been longer I would most probably have given up but I am glad I finished it. An American once described to me that the USA is like a donut, the East and West Coasts and a big hole in the middle. Reading this novel reminded me of that observation as the story of two brothers living a hand to mouth existence and where life seemed to be perpetually repetitive: centred on beer, films on TV and every so often hitting the road. What warmed me to the book was the endearing fraternity between the brothers and it is this that Vlautin captures very well. The stories Frank makes up for Jerry Lee together with the dog were welcome relief from the otherwise bleak life.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ruth E. Mckinsey on June 11, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The linear narrative of the story with some flshbacks isn't bad, but I wanted the characters to be fleshed out a bit more.I want to know more of their thoughts and motivations other than just, "Mom died." The lives of these young men is depressing but they represent a good part of society. I have seen many disenfranchised students like them in my teaching career. I liked the authenticity of the setting--actual places in Nevada -and I thought the book ended on a somewhat hopeful note.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 5, 2013
Format: Paperback
Willy Vlautin's novel "The Motel Life" (2007) tells the story of two young brothers. Frank and Jerry Lee Flannigan who are hopelessly down on their luck. The novel is set in Reno and its environs. It explores the underside of the "Biggest Little City in the World" from the perspective of its lower-middle class and trapped residents rather than from the tourists who visit for fun. The novel portrays a Reno of small, dingy motels, snowy and lonely streets, cheap diners and used car lots, casinos where the locals go to gamble, and hospitals.

With its scenes of night and cold and its plot of two essentially good people who find themselves caught up in circumstances, the book has a noir ambience. The writing is simple with a world-weary rather than hardboiled tone. The younger brother, Frank, narrates the story which is based upon the faithfulness to each other of the two troubled brothers. Jerry Lee, driving home to the brothers' shabby rooming hourse after a failed date, accidentally kills a young boy who runs into a dark street. He flees the scene rather than reporting the accident to the police and tells Frank, who is drunk, of the incident. The two young men impulsively decide to run away making Frank an accomplice and exposing the brothers to the threat of substantial trouble with the law.

The book moves in and out of becoming a "road novel" as the brothers shortly find themselves back in Reno. Jerry Lee is consumed with guilt over the accident and both brothers are frustrated and lonely. They regret their drinking, aimlessness, lack of education, and failure to make anything of their lives. Some of the past life of the Flannigan brothers is recounted in flasbacks.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. G. Hembroff on April 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
You have to carefully consider whether you are optimistic enough for this story before you start. Well-written, sparse, & thoughtful, it is not trite nor tame.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patsy Woods on December 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Willy Vlautin needs to slow down and flesh out his characters...for his readers' sake. I think we would care more if we knew these two brothers better. There are mere glimpses of the men wanting to do what's right but not enough. I loved the descriptions of the seedy side of Reno. I have observed these disenfranchised people that live for years in one room, with a hot plate and a bottle of whiskey. It wouild be a better story if we knew more about how these brothers got to where they are. Willy writes in a hurry and that's too bad.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carmen Thomas on June 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book haunts me days after I've finished it. I'm from Reno and the desperation and monotony of the area he captured authentically. I found the book to be very realistic considering the situation Jerry Lee and Frank found themselves in. The writing is simple, not heavy on metaphors so that the message of the book comes through loud and clear. Willy Vlautin is truly a gifted writer and storyteller. The novel was sad without being melodramatic, it had me convinced the two brothers were going to make it and everything would work out for them somehow, because it had to! Something happened in the end that truly shocked me and rocked me leaving my mouth hanging on the floor, I felt like these two guys could have been some of my oldest and best friends and I was on their journey with them.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. This book demonstrates that when life seems bleak, you feel completely worthless, and are down on your knees struggling in the darkness, if you follow your heart you will find a sliver of light somewhere.
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