The Horse: A Novel (Hardcover)

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The Horse: A Novel (Hardcover)

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“Willy Vlautin writes about people overlooked by society and overlooked by literature. In The Horse, he tells the story of a tenderhearted man who has a steady talent and a crushing addiction. It is both a work of extraordinary compassion and a really great novel." — Ann Patchett, New York Times bestselling author of Tom Lake

“A moving tale of suffering and redemption, The Horse portrays the immense gravity of what it takes to be human in tough times, and the elusive grace that might just be grasped from music, animals, and memory.” — Geraldine Brooks, New York Times bestselling author of Horse

Award-winning author Willy Vlautin explores loneliness, art, regret, and hard-won empathy in this poignant novel—his most personal to date—that captures the life of a journeyman musician unable to escape the tragedies of his past.

Al Ward lives on an isolated mining claim in the high desert of central Nevada fifty miles from the nearest town. A grizzled man in his sixties, he survives on canned soup, instant coffee, and memories of his ex-wife, friends and family he’s lost, and his life as a touring musician. Hampered by insomnia, bouts of anxiety, and a chronic lethargy that keeps him from moving back to town, Al finds himself teetering on the edge of madness and running out of reasons to go on—until a horse arrives on his doorstep: nameless, blind, and utterly helpless.

Al hopes the horse will vanish as mysteriously as he appeared. Yet the animal remains, leaving him in a conundrum. Is the animal real, or a phantom conjured from imagination? As Al contemplates the horse’s existence—and what, if anything, he can do—his thoughts are interspersed with memories, from the moment his mother’s part-time boyfriend gifts him a 1959 butterscotch blonde Telecaster, to the day his travels begin. He joins various bands—all who perform his songs once they discover his talent–playing casinos, truck stops, clubs, and bars. He falls in love, and finds pockets of companionship and minor success along the way. Never close to stardom or financial success, he continues as a journeyman for decades until alcoholism and a heartbreaking tragedy lead him to the solitude of the barren Nevada desert.

A poignant meditation on addiction, heartbreak, and the reality of life on the road in smalltime bands, The Horse is a beautiful, haunting tale from an author working at the height of his powers.

Willy Vlautin is the author of the novels The Motel Life, Northline, Lean on Pete, The Free, Don’t Skip Out on Me, and The Night Always Comes. He is the founding member of the bands Richmond Fontaine and The Delines.


Product Details ISBN: 9780063346574
ISBN-10: 0063346575
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: July 30th, 2024
Pages: 208
Language: English

“Willy Vlautin writes about people overlooked by society and overlooked by literature. In The Horse, he tells the story of a tenderhearted man who has a steady talent and a crushing addiction. It is both a work of extraordinary compassion and a really great novel." — Ann Patchett, New York Times Bestselling author of Tom Lake

“A moving tale of suffering and redemption, The Horse portrays the immense gravity of what it takes to be human in tough times, and the elusive grace that might just be grasped from music, animals, and memory.” — Geraldine Brooks, New York Times bestselling author of Horse 

I loved this novel so much, though it broke my heart again and again. No one anywhere writes with such power and such stark beauty about American desperation and want, American loneliness and heartache. We need Willy Vlautin like we needed Johnny Cash, like we needed Larry McMurtry—he’s essential and every book he writes proves it all over again." — Joe Hill, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Full Throttle and Strange Weather

“I loved The Horse like I love all Willy Vlautin joints—for its melodic prose and its unflinching heart. This terrific parable of art and aging, laced within the bittersweet story of an old casino musician, is like the literary equivalent of a classic album by Tom Waits or Townes Van Zandt.” — Jess Walter, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Cold Millions and Beautiful Ruins

"There's not another writer out there, living or dead, that I trust with my heart more than Willy Vlautin, and he breaks it every damn time. In Al Ward's love and loss, in his decency, his pathos, and his struggle to endure, Vlautin has gifted us a paean to the power of song. The Horse is another classic from one of America's greatest storytellers." — Jonathan Evison, New York Times Bestselling Author of Again and Again

“Musician and Lean on Pete author Willy Vlautin captures the American West like few other writers. His prose is always excellent, his characters always beautifully drawn, and that promises to be the case with his next novel, about an isolated Nevada man in his 60s who is visited by a blind horse that refuses to leave.”
NPR

“Like John Steinbeck and Raymond Carver before him, Vlautin excels at telling deeply felt stories about characters who are down on their luck. The Horse is a textbook Vlautin novel in all the best ways. . . . Told in spare prose, unsentimental but sincere, The Horse is a moving paean to the healing power of animals and music—and a damn good yarn, too.” — Esquire, Best Books of Summer 2024

"The novel itself feels like a classic song, a lament of a lonesome balladeer, resulting in a singular masterpiece. Vlautin has composed another classic." — Booklist (starred review)

"Spare, restrained, unsentimental, yet full of emotion and force." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Heartrending….Vlautin movingly conveys the power of music to reveal new possibilities in one’s life. This shines."Publisher’s Weekly

“There is something quietly glorious about a novelist who identifies a furrow for their writing and then ploughs it diligently and skillfully from one novel to the next….briskly sketched…richly conjured….as succinct and wrenching as a well-honed folk song.” — The Guardian

“Vlautin’s most satisfying book to date…. The writing on music is superb; the underbelly of the working-band life, of the wannabes and never-gonna-bes rings so true here, you know Vlautin has lived part of it, seen a lot of it.” — Irish Times

“Holds hope - and a fair bit of music - in its heart.” Daily Mail

'Moving back and forth between Ward’s colourful, painful past and his current dilemma, Vlautin pays implicit tribute to talented, damaged outsiders who steadfastly pursue a creative vision, the result falling somewhere between Charles Bukowski and Cormac McCarthy." — Buzz (UK)

‘This is slower and more wistful; a country song. What his novels share is that, while they portray poverty and hardship, they do so with dignity, and his characters are not simply victims of their fates. Like the horse, they endure." — New Statesman (UK)

'Funny, shocking and heartfelt, this is easily my book of the year so far." — Big Issue (UK)