Lean on Pete

Willy Vlautin, Author . Harper Perennial $13.99 (277p) ISBN 978-0-06-145653-4

A blend of road novel and not-quite hard luck story, the latest from Vlautin (The Motel Life ) begins when 15-year-old Charley Thompson and his father move from Spokane, Wash. to Portland, Ore., to give starting over yet another try. When Charley’s dad takes up with a married secretary and stops coming home, Charley takes a job with Del Montgomery, a crank based out of the nearby racetrack who, among other things, shoots up a horse with vodka. After Charley’s father dies from wounds suffered during a fight with his lover’s husband, Charley, whom Vlautin has conveniently given the pastime of running, runs away with Pete, a horse and his only friend. This is where the narrative sours; Charley’s trek across the West, occasionally on horseback, is dominated by an unbelievable stretch of luck: men appear to dispense food and money, miraculously uninhabited trailers contain washers and dryers, and his hitchhiking is eerie, but not dangerous. Still, Vlautin’s characters, despite their unrealistic arcs, shine with his sparse style. It might be difficult to believe Charley’s bottomless cache of silver linings, but it’s remarkably easy to root for the kid. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/08/2010
Release date: 04/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 277 pages - 978-0-571-23572-8
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-571-23573-5
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-06-212730-3
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-571-25855-0
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