cover image The Night Always Comes

The Night Always Comes

Willy Vlautin. Harper, $26.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-303508-9

Taking a cue from classic noir, Vlautin (Don’t Skip Out on Me) offers a stunning, heartbreaking study of one woman’s struggle against fate and circumstance in an America that’s left her behind. The housing boom in Portland, Ore., has priced many working-class families out, but 30-year-old Lynette’s landlord offers her a good deal on the decrepit house she and her mother have been renting for years. Lynette works two jobs while caring for her developmentally disabled brother, Kenny, who also lives with them, and she has finally saved up enough for a down payment. All she needs is her mother to cosign on the loan. At the last minute her mother, exhausted by her own life of struggle and disappointment, backs out of the deal. Desperate, Lynette makes a last-ditch effort to buy the house herself. Along the way, a plot to steal a safe from a friend who owes Lynette money takes her into her dark past of mental illness, sexual abuse, and prostitution, and up against men who prey upon vulnerable women. This gritty page-turner sings with pitch-perfect prose, and Lynette’s desperation is palpable. Vlautin has achieved a brilliant synthesis of Raymond Carver and Jim Thompson. Agent: Lesley Thorne, Aitken Alexander Assoc. (Apr.)