Highly recommended. If you like Raymond Carver and Annie Proulx you'll probably find, as I have, something very special in the pages of Willy Vlautin's The Free - John Purcell, The Booktopia Book Guru.
A beautiful and bittersweet new novel from the author of Lean on Pete and The Motel Life
The life he knew before the bomb no longer existed. That Leroy Kervin was gone.
Willy Vlautin's stunning fourth novel opens with Leroy, a young, wounded, Iraq veteran, waking to a rare moment of clarity, his senses flooded with the beauty of remembering who he is but the pain of realising it won't last. When his attempt to end his half-life fails, he is taken to the local hospital where he is looked after by a nurse called Pauline, and visited by Freddie, the night-watchman from his group home for disabled men.
As the stories of these three wounded characters circle and cross each other, we come to learn more of their lives. The father who caused her mother to abandon them both, and who Pauline loves and loathes in equal measure, the daughters Freddie yearns to be re-united with and, in a mysterious and frightening adventure story, the girlfriend Leroy dreams of protecting. Evoking a world which is still trying to come to terms with the legacy of a forgotten war, populated by those who struggle to pay for basic health care, Vlautin also captures how it is the small acts of kindness which can make a difference between life and death, between imprisonment and liberty. Haunting and essential, The Free is an unforgettable read.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
A marvellous companion to last year's The Yellow Birds, this is a superb piece of writing about the impact of PTSD on a young US Iraq war veteran. Everyone in these stories is wounded in some way, from the soldier recovering in hospital after a failed attempt to take his own life, to the nurse who cares for him. But small acts of kindness and quiet compassion offer glimpses of hope in an otherwise heartbreaking portrait of a nation's damaged and forgotten people. Poignant and powerful realism.
About the Author
Willy Vlautin is the prize-winning author of three acclaimed novels, The Motel Life (2005), Northline (2007) and Lean on Pete (2010), which was shortlisted for the IMPAC Prize. He is also the frontman of the band Richmond Fontaine, whose albums include 'Post to Wire' and 'Thirteen Cities'. Originally from Reno, he now lives in Portland, Oregon.
"Willy Vlautin is one of the bravest novelists writing.... An unsentimental Steinbeck, a heartbroken Haruf, Willy Vlautin tells us who really lives now in our America, our city in ruins."
Ursula K. Le Guin
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 1st March 2014
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 13.5 x 2.7
Weight (kg): 0.32
Edition Number: 1