I liked this one a lot. As a Portland local (and a fan of the Delines), Vlautin's Portland references made me giddy within the heaviness of the all-too-real story of gentrification and poverty in the area. It's a satisfying slap in the face to the "Keep Portland Weird" tourism steamrolling what's at the heart of the city. The sentences are tight, punchy. Hard to not compare them to Carver (for me at least, given that I'm a big Carver fan). Vlautin has a voice and a sense of humor all his own though, one that doesn't cover up the heaviness of the subject with irony and instead explores it with sincerity. Truthful observations are laid bare without apologies and light is shone on characters' complicated hearts with a great deal of empathy. Recommended By Jimbo C., Powells.com
Willy Vlautin tells remarkable stories with plain language and real characters. His is the kind of writing that puts the reader in the body and heart of the protagonist, in this case, a working-class woman trying to survive and do right in a gentrified, moneyed world. We need to read these fraught stories, and Vlautin makes it compelling to do so. Recommended By Doug C., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Award-winning author Willy Vlautin explores the impact of trickle-down greed and opportunism of gentrification on ordinary lives in this scorching novel that captures the plight of a young woman pushed to the edge as she fights to secure a stable future for herself and her family.
Barely thirty, Lynette is exhausted. Saddled with bad credit and juggling multiple jobs, some illegally, she’s been diligently working to buy the house she lives in with her mother and developmentally disabled brother Kenny. Portland’s housing prices have nearly quadrupled in fifteen years, and the owner is giving them a good deal. Lynette knows it’s their last best chance to own their own home — and obtain the security they’ve never had. While she has enough for the down payment, she needs her mother to cover the rest of the asking price. But a week before they’re set to sign the loan papers, her mother gets cold feet and reneges on her promise, pushing Lynette to her limits to find the money they need.
Set over two days and two nights, The Night Always Comes follows Lynette’s frantic search — an odyssey of hope and anguish that will bring her face to face with greedy rich men and ambitious hustlers, those benefiting and those left behind by a city in the throes of a transformative boom. As her desperation builds and her pleas for help go unanswered, Lynette makes a dangerous choice that sets her on a precarious, frenzied spiral. In trying to save her family’s future, she is plunged into the darkness of her past, and forced to confront the reality of her life.
A heart wrenching portrait of a woman hungry for security and a home in a rapidly changing city, The Night Always Comes raises the difficult questions we are often too afraid to ask ourselves: What is the price of gentrification, and how far are we really prepared to go to achieve the American Dream? Is the American dream even attainable for those living at the edges? Or for too many of us, is it only a hollow promise?
"Vlautin offers a stunning, heartbreaking study of one woman's struggle against fate and circumstance in an America that's left her behind... This gritty page-turner sings with pitch-perfect prose, and [protagonist] Lynette's desperation is palpable. Vlautin has achieved a brilliant synthesis of Raymond Carver and Jim Thompson." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Remarkable, real, and tender, The Night Always Comes is a story of America, of the disenfranchised and the still hopeful, of a world littered with artifacts and so little opportunity. Willy Vlautin's characters blaze with honesty, fighting for their slim chance at the American dream, leaving us to wonder if it was all a charade. An amazing achievement." Rene Denfeld, Author of The Butterfly Girl and The Child Finder
"The trick to writing a great thriller is both simple and very, very difficult: make us care about the person whose life is in jeopardy. I can't remember the last time I worried myself sick about a fictional character the way I did about Lynette in Willy Vlautin's terrific, big-hearted new novel The Night Always Comes. You won't soon forget either her or the fraught world she so courageously navigates." Richard Russo, Author of Empire Falls and Chances Are...
"I finished reading this novel dripping with admiration for Willy Vlautin and the tough wonder he has brought forth. The Night Always Comes hits the high-water mark; there is skillful and beautiful objectivity to the writing, characters so real that when they bleed you get a few drops on your sleeve, and a story of economic want and desperation and heart." Daniel Woodrell, Author of Winter's Bone and The Maid's Version
Watch the Powell’s virtual event with Willy Vlautin and Chelsea Cain!
About the Author
Willy Vlautin is the author of five novels: The Motel Life, which was made into a film starring Dakota Fanning, Emile Hersh, and Stephen Dorff; Northline; Lean on Pete, which won two Oregon Book awards—the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction and The Reader’s Choice Award—and was made into an A24 film starring Chloe Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, and Charlie Plummer; The Free, which won the Oregon Book Awards Reader’s Choice Award; and Don’t Skip Out on Me, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and an ALA Notable Book. Vlautin lives outside of Portland, Oregon, and is the founding member of the bands Richmond Fontaine and The Delines.
Willy Vlautin on PowellsBooks.Blog
I was thinking of a quote by our last president. "The point is you can’t be too greedy." He was talking about business, but I do feel this idea has long leaked into American politics and into society itself...