6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A touching account of an innocent abroad,
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This review is from: Lean on Pete (Paperback)Willy Vlautin seems to love to cause his characters as much grief as he can - in 'The Motel Life' they stumble from one bad break to another, on an ever-dwindling supply of cash and fuel, and in 'Lean on Pete' the narrator, Charley Thompson, has similar misfortunes happen to him too. It seems to be a developing trademark of Willy's...
Charley is a 15 year-old kid who wants a bit of stability in his life - he's not a rebel, a drinker or a drop-out, he's just someone who has no mother and an extremely unreliable father who leaves him alone for days at a time to party. In fact, he's a sensible, sensitive person who adapts to misfortune with stoic non-judgement. He just gets on with things.
The writing is in the first person, and is very lean - every word deserves to be there. Vlautin writes with a stark matter-of-fact style that brings the innocence of Charley Thonpson to the fore - it's a very believable voice that gets you rooting for him right from the start.
In many ways, Vlautin seems to be taking on the mantle left by Charles Bukowski, John Fante and John Updike - he's describing the world of the outsider, USA style. Charley forms an emotional bond with a mistreated racehorse (the eponymous 'Lean on Pete'), and he seems to subconsciously sympathise with the animal because they both have had unlucky breaks, although this is never expressly written.
Lean on Pete is generous in spirit, gently-written in that the characters are allowed to speak for themselves, and always honest. It really reminded me how nice it to have some food after a couple of days of going without. If you like to root for the underdog, then this is for you.