Willy vlautin lean on pete
Lean On Pete by Willy VlautinFifteen-year-old Charley Thompson wants a home, food on the table, and a high school he can attend for more than part of a year. But as the son of a single father working in warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, Charleys been pretty much on his own. When tragic events leave him homeless weeks after their move to Portland, Oregon, Charley seeks refuge in the tack room of a run-down horse track. Charleys only comforts are his friendship with a failing racehorse named Lean on Pete and a photograph of his only known relative. In an increasingly desperate circumstance, Charley will head east, hoping to find his aunt who had once lived a thousand miles away in Wyoming but the journey to find her will be a perilous one.
In Vlautins third novel, Lean on Pete, he reveals the lives and choices of American youth like Charley Thompson who were failed by those meant to protect them and who were never allowed the chance to just be a kid.
'Lean on Pete' Trailer
Lean On Pete
Over the course of three novels, and many albums with his band, Richmond Fontaine, Willy Vlautin has mapped out his own territory. It's a version of the American West in which the principal cities are the gambling town of Reno, Nevada and the steel town of Portland, Oregon. Vlautin's version is about as far from the tourist brochures as you can get. He unearths a world Steinbeck would have recognised: a place of flophouse motels and fading racetracks, where the American underclass still resides. Vlautin's previous novels both featured protagonists in young adulthood, trying to escape from foolish mistakes.
There have been so many coming-of-age tales over the years about the connection between an adolescent and an animal—think of Kes, or Old Yeller , or Au Hasard Balthazar. They rarely end smoothly. Set on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon at least in the first act , Lean on Pete follows Charley, a sensitive, subdued kid who lives with his hard-drinking, hell-raising dad, Ray Travis Fimmel. By chance, Charley gets a job at the Portland Downs helping Del, a veteran horse trainer whose glory days are well behind him. Del runs a shoestring operation doing what he can to win a few races with the cheap or overlooked animals he can still afford to own.
Charley just wants to stay somewhere long enough to play on a high-school football team for a whole season. Every morning he goes running. His runs take him past Portland Meadows racetrack, where he meets an old man with one arm in a cast trying to change the wheel on his truck. He tells his story without self-pity, tragically unaware of just how unlucky he is. The other characters, too, are seen with a clear, non-judgmental eye: petty criminals, drug addicts, soldiers on leave, all of them damaged, many of them causing damage in their turn.
Lean on Pete is the story of a boy and his horse, but it is never heart-warming — it ranges in tone from desperate to merely painful — and, while fascinating, it is never entertaining or redemptive. But if you want an unadorned portrait of American life at least in some places at the beginning of the 21st century, this is the book for you.
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