Vlautin, Willy 1968(?)–

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Vlautin, Willy 1968(?)–


Born c. 1968, in Reno, NV.


Home—Portland, OR.


Cofounder of band Richmond Fontaine; songwriter and musician; also worked for ten years for a trucking company.


The Motel Life (novel), Harper Perennial (New York, NY), 2006.

Author of lyrics for his band, Richmond Fontaine, including the release of several compact discs. Contributor to periodicals, including Cold Drill, Chiron Review, Sun Dog Southeast Review, and Zembla.


Movie rights to The Motel Life were sold to Guillermo Arriaga.


The front man and founder of the alternative country band Richmond Fontaine, Willy Vlautin has known many struggles in his life. His distinctly nonmainstream musical group has never gained a large following in the United States, though they have found better success in Europe and the United Kingdom and have released a number of compact discs. Vlautin writes lyrics and sings for the band, and his music is known for being distinctly dark and "about the sort of blue collar folk that corporate US treats with contempt," according to Brian Denny in a Morning Star Online article. Now gaining some financial stability, Vlautin yearns for a more stable life than can be offered by a band constantly on the road. "The camaraderie of being in a band is my favourite thing. Other than that, I was a shy guy, I just wanted to go home," he admitted to Peter Murphy on the Laura Hird Web site. Taking his writing to a new level, he penned his first novel, The Motel Life.

As unrelievedly depressing as many of his songs, The Motel Life is about two brothers who never seem to get a break. Their mother died when they were young, and their father abandoned them. Sticking together, they lead a vagabond life, escaping their miserable existence with the help of drugs and alcohol. One day, their world goes from bad to worse when they hit and kill a teen with their car. Ditching the body, the brothers flee from the authorities, trying to escape from the inevitable. Calling the novel a "gritty debut" with spare prose reminiscent of the work of S.E. Hinton, a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that Vlautin "transmits a quiet sense of resilience and hopefulness" despite the subject matter. Christine Perkins, writing in Library Journal, held a contrary opinion. Describing the prose as "meandering" and "choppy," Perkins felt that this is an "inconsistent effort." Other critics were more positive, with Murphy asserting that The Motel Life is "the work of a careful and conscientious writer."

Vlautin plans to continue his new career as novelist with a book about a woman who tries to escape an abusive relationship.



Bookseller, November 17, 2006, "Vlautin Signs Up for Two More Books with Faber," p. 13.

Entertainment Weekly, June 1, 2007, Clark Collis, "Richmond Fontaine," p. 68.

Library Journal, May 15, 2007, Christine Perkins, review of The Motel Life, p. 85.

New York Times Book Review, June 24, 2007, John Wray, "Let's Get Lost," review of The Motel Life, p. 22.

Publishers Weekly, February 26, 2007, review of The Motel Life, p. 53.


Americana,http://www.americana-uk.com/ (October 27, 2007), "Willy Vlautin (Richmond Fontaine)."

Austinist,http://austinist.com/ (September 19, 2007), interview with Willy Vlautin.

Comes with a Smile,http://cwas.hinah.com/ (October 27, 2007), Stav Sherez, "Richmond Fontaine," interview with Willy Vlautin.

KQED Web site,http://www.kqed.org/ (May 1, 2007), review of The Motel Life.

Laura Hird Web site,http://www.laurahird.com/ (October 27, 2007), Peter Murphy, interview with Willy Vlautin.

Morning Star Online,http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/ (November 10, 2004), Brian Denny, "Star Interview: Willy Vlautin."

Oregonian Online,http://www.oregonlive.com/ (April 22, 2007), Jeff Baker, "His Sad Stories Didn't Sell, Nor Did His Music. Willy Vlautin Perservered."

Richmond Fontaine MySpace Page,http://www.myspace.com/richmondfontaine (October 27, 2007).

SF Weekly,http://www.sfweekly.com/ (June 27, 2007), Jennifer Maerz, "Manifesting Dead-End Destinies Willy Vlautin Attempts the Great Escape."

Uncut,http://www.uncut.co.uk/ (October 27, 2007), Allan Jones, interview with Will Vlautin.

Willy Vlautin Home Page,http://www.willyvlautin.com (October 27, 2007).