Vlautin’s first novel, The Motel Life was first published by Faber and Faber in 2006, and then by Harper Perennial in 2007.  To date, it has been published in eleven countries.  A hard luck story about two brothers living in motels in Reno, The Motel Life earned Vlautin the title “the Dylan of the dislocated” (The Independent), plus literary comparisons to Steinbeck, Carver, Fante, and Denis Johnson.

The Motel Life won the Nevada Silver Pen Award in 2007 and made several top ten lists in the States and abroad.  It was one of the few works of fiction to make the Washington Post Media Mix’s Top 25 Books of 2007.

Adapted to the big screen for release in 2013, The Motel Life took home three awards from the Rome International Film Festival, including the Audience Choice Award. The film stars Emile Hirsch, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, and Dakota Fanning, and features dazzling animation by Mike Smith. The New York Times called it “an outlaw-country ballad… the performances and ambience resonate” and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone deemed it “striking… tinged with humor and heartbreaking”.

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The Motel Life

Based on the popular novel by Willy Vlautin, THE MOTEL LIFE is a searing and profound examination of brotherhood set in the timeless Sierra Nevadan frontier. Frank (Emile Hirsch) and Jerry Lee Flannigan (Stephen Dorff) work odd jobs, drink hard, and drift from motel to motel. Their only escape is through Frank’s fantastic stories and Jerry Lee’s rich illustrations. Everything changes when Jerry Lee is involved in a hit-and-run accident, which forces the brothers across the state to the home of Frank’s old flame, Annie (Dakota Fanning). While the two seem safe from the law, Jerry Lee’s insatiability and all-consuming guilt render their future increasingly uncertain. Like an outlaw country song, this directorial debut from real-life brothers Gabe & Alan Polsky finds beauty and hope in a world of casinos, gun shops, dive bars, and in the simple people who inhabit them. The film features animation by Mike Smith.

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