Willy Vlautin, Author . Harper Perennial $14.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-06-145652-7

Singer-novelist Vlautin’s second novel (after The Motel Life ) reads more like a movie treatment than a novel. Allison Johnson, 22, is a high school dropout with a destructive lifestyle (alcoholism, self-mutilation, vituperative boyfriend who knocks her up early in the novel); the only positive influence in Allison’s life is her favorite actor, Paul Newman, who appears to her during traumatic moments. Their banal conversations center on Newman’s movie roles and how they equip him to continually bail Allison out of her sorry situation. She takes his advice (“get the hell out of Dodge, as they say, and most of all, kid, buck up”) and moves from Las Vegas to Reno. But pregnant Allison’s life isn’t much better in Reno: the cycle of self-loathing continues, and even though Newman implores Allison to turn her life around, the damage is all but done. Much of the writing reads like stage direction, and the abbreviated chapters give the narrative a rushed, slapdash feel. (May)

Reviewed on: 02/11/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-571-23571-1
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-0-571-25013-4
Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-06-212729-7
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