Vlautin’s second novel, Northline (2008), is the heartbreaking yet hopeful tale of Allison Johnson, an alcoholic waitress who flees Las Vegas in search of a new beginning in Reno. Plagued by weakness, anxiety, and loneliness, she seeks comfort in imaginary conversations with Paul Newman. The first edition of the novel was accompanied by a CD soundtrack of instrumental songs as gloriously emotive as the novel itself (still available in the store).
Northline made The San Francisco Chronicle’s Top Ten Bestseller list and was picked by George Pelecanos as his favorite book of the decade.
Northline heralds the emergence of a major realist talent”
John Marshall, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Perhaps the most moving novel of the year.”
“Vlautin has written the American novel that I’ve been hoping to find.”
“What’s particularly arresting about Northline is its modesty. The plot offers few twists or turns, the prose is clean and simple and never tries particularly hard (which works in its favor) and the characters, while wonderfully imagined, are an uncomplicated lot. And yet it is fiercely alive with an understated empathy, an understanding of human frailty and resilience. It comes across like the truth and in this day and age, that is something of a triumph.”
Tobin O’Donnell, San Francisco Chronicle
“Halfway between a Sam Shepard play and a Willie Nelson song, the language is spare, simple and beautifully hewn, and if there’s only a flicker of redemption, it shines all the brighter in the gloom. Not least among the book’s charms is the accompanying CD, a lovely desert sunset story-soundtrack.”