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Northline by Willy Vlautin Review

Title: Northline

Author: Willy Vlautin

First published January 1, 2008

192 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780571235704 (ISBN10: 0571235700)

Rating: 4


After leaving behind her troubled past in Vegas, Allison Johnson finds herself in Reno, determined to start afresh. However, her lack of self-confidence and the ghosts of her past constantly haunt her.

The only solace she finds is in her imaginary conversations with Paul Newman, her hero. As she struggles to find a foothold in a new city, small acts of kindness from strangers begin to restore her faith in humanity.

With its charming cast of characters and a heartfelt sense of longing, Northline is a poignant portrayal of the American heartland. Willy Vlautin’s exquisite prose and his ability to infuse warmth and empathy into his characters make this novel a stirring emotional journey.

About the Author

Meet Willy Vlautin, an American author and the frontman of Richmond Fontaine, a band based in Portland, Oregon. Born and raised in Reno, Nevada in 1967, Vlautin is a prolific artist who has authored four novels – The Motel Life, Northline, Lean on Pete, and The Free – and released nine studio albums with his band since the late nineties.

Vlautin’s works have been published in the USA, Europe, and Asia, and have received critical acclaim. His debut novel, The Motel Life, was named one of the top 25 books of the year by the Washington Post and was an editor’s choice in the New York Times Book Review.

Northline, his second novel, was also highly praised, and Vlautin was praised as a significant new American literary realist. George Pelecanos, a famous writer, declared Northline his favorite book of the decade.

The first edition of this novel was accompanied by an original instrumental soundtrack performed by Vlautin and his longtime bandmate, Paul Brainard.

Lean on Pete, Vlautin’s third novel, tells the story of a 15-year-old boy who befriends a failed racehorse named Lean on Pete while working and living on a rundown race track in Portland, Oregon. The novel won two Oregon Book Awards – the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction and the People’s Choice Award.

Vlautin’s writing is highly evocative of the American West, with all three of his novels taking place in and around Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. He cites John Steinbeck, Raymond Carver, Barry Gifford, and William Kennedy as literary influences.

His books explore the lives and relationships of people at the bottom of America’s social and economic ladder, often struggling with alcohol addiction and itinerancy.

Editoral Review

Northline by Willy Vlautin is a novel that belongs to the contemporary fiction genre. It was first published on January 1, 2008.

Willy Vlautin is an American author, singer-songwriter, and musician, best known for his works of fiction that are set in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. His works touch upon themes such as poverty, addiction, and the lives of working-class Americans.

Northline is the story of Allison Johnson, a young woman who has had a difficult life so far. Abused by her boyfriend, she turns to alcohol as a means of escape, ultimately deciding to leave town and start a new life for herself.

She moves to Reno, Nevada, where she finds work as a waitress at a casino. Allison is determined to turn her life around, but her problems persist as she continues to struggle with addiction and toxic relationships.

The novel is set in Reno, a city that is known for its casinos and gambling culture. The city serves as a backdrop for the struggles faced by Allison, and the characters she encounters throughout the book.

The conflicts in the novel are both internal and external, as Allison battles her demons while trying to navigate the challenges that come with a new life. One of the strengths of the novel is the characterization of Allison.

The author does an excellent job of portraying her as a complex character, with flaws and strengths. Allison is a relatable character and readers will find themselves rooting for her throughout the book.

The descriptions of the city of Reno and the people that populate it are also well done, transporting readers to a world that is both gritty and real. However, the pacing of the book could be improved.

The novel can feel slow at times, with too much emphasis on the mundane details of Allison’s life. Additionally, the dialogue can be stilted, and some readers may find the novel’s themes too heavy-handed.

Northline touches upon themes such as addiction, domestic violence, and poverty. The author paints a bleak picture of the lives of working-class Americans and offers an unflinching look at the problems faced by individuals in such circumstances.

The novel is a poignant reminder that addiction and domestic violence do not discriminate, and that anyone can fall victim to them. Overall, Northline is a thought-provoking novel that is well worth a read.

It offers a glimpse into the struggles faced by working-class Americans, and the toll that addiction and domestic violence can take on individuals. While the book does have its flaws, it is still an engaging read that will appeal to fans of contemporary fiction.

I would give Northline a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.