Vlautin proves that the label "lyricist"
Many reviewers mention the same things when they review Vlautin's fiction: his band, echoes of Steinbeck and Denis Johnson, maybe some Carver. This ground is well-covered. What these reviews fail to promote is Vlautin's ear for dialogue and his gifts for description. In these regards, his work has more in common with authors beyond the modern American canon. I'm thinking about George Eliot and Chekhov in respect to Vlautin's ability to set a scene and tease out the tensions that connect people, events, objects. And his abundant love for his characters and the landscapes they traverse, from circus tents to laundromats to bars and bedrooms, calls to mind Dickens' familiarity with the streets of London, or Heaney's evocations of an Irish farmstead. I'd recommend either of Vlautin's novels and emphasize that both are pleasingly and impressively different from each other to suggest that Vlautin's imagination is capable of great things to come. And his band kicks ass, too.
Was this review helpful to you?YESNO