The Ghost of Pete…

While I was away on tour, I read Willy Vlautin’s recent novel, Lean On Pete. The story is told in the (incredibly authentic) voice of fifteen year old Charley Thompson, as he tries to find his place in a world, that at every turn, seems to wrong him. The two constants in his life are the aging quarter horse, Lean On Pete and a photograph of his aunt, who he hasn’t seen in years. There is a deep ache in Vlautin’s story, his characters are startling real and with Charley Thompson… well you just want to take him home and offer him a hot meal and a warm bed.

The spareness of Vlautin’s language captures the voice of the American underclass, those left by the wayside in this fast-paced, consumer-driven world. Charley’s world is one, where scavenging from bins, sleeping in bushes, stealing from corner stores, hitching rides with unhinged characters and some seriously stark violence are part of surviving, but more, they are part of his deeper search for identity.

What has stayed with me and what continues to haunt me is the way Vlautin reflected Charley’s emotions and the state of the world through the eyes of Pete. As Charley’s silent confdant, Pete’s eyes held all of his hopes and fears. His eyes, so clear, so pure were the safest place Charley had ever known.

Pete’s eyes have come to me many times since closing the book and for me, this is the mark of great writing.

Great writing stays with us, becomes part of our own life story… so what are the images/words/lyrics/lines that continue to haunt you from your favourite books/poems/songs?

Let’s share stories…

Oh, and while we’re sharing, here’s the trailer for Lean On Pete:



Filed under discussions

3 responses to “The Ghost of Pete…

  1. “We met when we were almost young…” Leonard Cohen.

    • gnunn

      So good Fiona… thanks for sharing. I think the Cohen line that haunts me most is ‘I saw there were no oceans left for scavengers like me.’

  2. This is a very difficult question to answer. I have decided to address the 60s. I recall exhortations from my youth:
    Akela: ‘DYB, DYB, DYB’ (Do Your Best)
    “Never give up.
    give up.”
    Rolling Stones “but if you try sometimes / you just might find / you just might find / you get what you need”. and much more
    Sammy Davis Jr “Persistence” , when asked what was his greatest gift.
    “Houston. We have a problem” They flew to the Moon in an Austin 7 (equivalent). I watched Apollo 11 with Nan, born before powered flight.
    Beatles: Eleanor Rigby – “… all the lonely people. Where do they all come from?” and much more
    Tolkein’s ‘House of Tom Bombadil’, and everything else.

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