Day 17. Willy Vlautin. It was a Paul Kelly song, based on Raymond Carver’s Too Much Water So Close to Home, that inspired Vlautin to start writing stories. He has published three novels in that spirit, The Motel Life (2007), Northline (2008) and Lean on Pete (2010), all characterized by what one reviewer called “melancholy Americana.” Vlautin’s band, Richmond Fontaine, plays with him on his spoken word CD, A Jockey’s Christmas, which we think would make a nice gift for the Vlautin fan on your list.
He’s currently back home in Scappoose, Oregon and glad to be off the road after a recent European tour.
Here’s his appropriately spare list, with links to his favorite NW stores, hometown (okay, next town over) St. Helen’s Book Shop and Powell’s – “They’re always so nice and they always know a lot, and Jesus do they have a lot of stuff.”:
Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
Crooked Letter Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
For young adult/kids:
I give the worst advice here so no comment. I never think things are as dark as parents do!
Illiterate/hate to read:
Black Rock by Paul F. Starrs and Peter Goin
In the American West by Richard Avedon
Wayward/out of rehab/sending Western Union money to them every six months sort of life-long friends:
Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout
Shoot the Piano Player by David Goodis. A great madman noir writer.
Miracles in Sin City by Reverend Howard Cooper. He ran the Reno/Sparks Gospel Mission in Reno, Nevada for years. Maybe he’ll get through to your special degenerate.