The Motel Life

The Motel Life

A Novel

Book - 2006
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Brothers Frank and Jerry Lee are on the run after a hit-and-run accident. Interweaving past and present, Vlautin unfolds the story of their unhappy lives--lives afflicted by drink, bleak economic circumstances, and family misfortune.
Publisher: New York : Harper Perennial, c2006
ISBN: 9780062325938
Characteristics: 206 p. : ill. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Beaty, Nathan


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Dec 16, 2017

The themes of fate and chance circulate in the novel through the metaphors of gambling and failure. The narrator, Frank, and his brother, Jerry Lee, raise each other after the death of their mother while they are both teens. Their father had previously abandoned the family and his life's focus was gambling which led to debt, beatings and jail. Frank calls Jerry Lee "the unluckiest guy I know". Jerry Lee lives in fear of "Bad luck", which he says, "falls on people every day. It's one of the certain truths. It's always on deck, it's always just waiting. The worst thing, the thing that scares me most is that you never know who or when it's going to hit". Bad Luck is the dark God casting His shadow over this novel. But the shame and failure He promises all is countered by the redemptive promise of love and friendship, both of which play equally prominent roles in the novel. The novel overflows with pathos. Bring a couple of boxes of kleenex along while you're reading. The text is complemented by drawings that bring the motels, small towns, casinos and bars to life.


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