Portland based writer Willy Vlautin’s latest book, Don’t Skip Out on Me, moves away from the Pacific Northwest and plants us in Nevada. Horace Hopper is a young man who has spent his entire life on a Nevada Sheep Ranch. Adopted by a kind couple, Mr. and Mrs. Reese, the half Paiute half Irish Horace, aspires to know more about himself beyond the world of ranching. Horace buries his hopes and dream in boxing, and goes on an odyssey to find himself in the sport. Reinventing himself as Hector Hidago, he travels from the ranch to Tucson and then to Las Vegas to make a name for himself.
Vlautin has said in interviews and book talks that one of his biggest interests as a writer is the exploration of how the experiences of childhood that “dent” us play and shake out over a life. This concept is at the center of Don’t Skip Out On Me. Vlautin’s tenderness and realism cut to the bone of life. The prose here is crystalline, and demands comparison to Cormac McCarthy and John Steinbeck. The book is not an easy read, the characters here are shown at their most vulnerable and traumatized. This book will break your heart.
Recommended for readers of realism and those interested in books that dive deep into the human condition.
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