In author/musician Willy Vlautin’s fifth novel, Horace Hopper, a half-Paiute, half-Irish young man works on the farm of his de facto parents, the Reeses, in Nevada. Hopper dreams of glory, and an identity of his own, so he becomes the boxer Hector Hidalgo, taking and giving beatings from Mexico to Las Vegas in the pursuit of purpose.
Vlautin’s prose is deceptively simple, his clipped descriptions loaded with meaning. The narrative is as unsparing as Hopper’s fights, but what stays standing is a profound sense of hope, a hope that drives society’s downtrodden and provides the theme for much of Vlautin’s work.
With his alt-country band Richmond Fontaine, Vlautin has also produced a cracking soundtrack — sure to be used in the film version that will almost certainly follow.
Don’t Skip Out On Me, by Willy Vlautin, Faber, RRP£14.99, 304 pages
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