Tonight we welcome back Willy Vlautin reading from his new book, Lean on Pete. Vlautin is also the author of two previous novels, The Motel Life and Northline.
Lean on Pete is the story of Charley Thompson, a teenage boy who might be an orphan (he’s not sure). But for most of the book he is parentless. For most of the book, he’s without a companion as well, except for Lean on Pete, a racehorse doomed by a congenital bone problem.
When Charley’s father dies and Charley discovers that Pete is to be sent to a Mexican slaughterhouse, the action gets serious. Charley, not yet old enough to drive legally, steals a truck and trailer and kidnaps Pete. He heads out across the desert of central Oregon to find a place where both of them can be safe. Telling you more than that would be spoiling the story.
Written in Vlautin’s lovely, sparse style, Lean on Pete has a wonderful narrative arc. The leanness of the writing serves to enhance the story. Not for this writer a cataract of adjectives and adverbs. Vlautin is rather a fine storyteller in the traditions of Raymond Carver and John Steinbeck.
Lean on Pete is a story of desperation, a story of desperate measures taken, of hope that refuses to die no matter how dire the circumstance. Vlautin quietly draws the reader in to share Charley’s and Pete’s experiences. And when redemption comes (as it generally does in Vlautin’s works), it comes so suddenly and so quietly that the reader is left with a sense of awe, of having just witnessed a small, simple miracle.
This is a terrific book. Please welcome Willy Vlautin.
Willy Vlautin's official website:
Photos of Willy Vlautin provided by Cindy Hanson; photo copyright Cindy Hanson
Introduction written by Marianne Klekacz