Genre: American Novel - Coming of Age

Published: 2010 - Read:

Lean on Pete

Willy Vlautin (1967 - )

Pages: 224


Found this on the Waterstones' website which seems quite a useful summing up:

"An archetypal American novel, Huck Finn for the crystal-meth generation...a sad, often brutal, but oddly beautiful portrait of an America that's forgotten only because we choose not to remember its continuing existence." - Independent Extra

Willy Vlautin is a songwriter as well as being an author. His voice strikes me as a blend of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. You can have a listen here. (The third track sounds a bit like Springsteens The River.)

I've read descriptions of the book which say that it is about the bond between a boy and a broken down racehorse... this is misleading. The Huck Finn echoes are more helpful. A young boy facing almost impossible odds, with absent, feckless father, has to rely on his own ingenuity (and basic decency) to survive. He encounters both humanity at its worst, and yet he also is given a helping hand, and benefits from the kindness of strangers.

If you like Cormac McCarthy, Thomas Savage, John Williams, Richard Yates, (John Steinbeck and even Ernest Hemingway), then you will appreciate the style of this narrative. It manages to embue the contemporary with a mythic feel. (That sounds like a bold claim; but the themes are universal.)

I really like it. Will it stand the test of time? (Try the music too.)