The Horse : 'Extraordinary.' Ann Patchett


'Vlautin at his absolute finest - unflinching but full of heart.'

'A bruised and beautiful instant classic.'

Willy Vlautin's most personal novel yet - a poetic and deeply moving story about what it really takes to be a musician.

'There's a horse', he whispered. 'An old horse that's standing in front of my house. He's blind and he won't eat and I don't know what to do.'

65-year-old Al Ward is several years into an isolated stint living on old mining land in Nevada left to him by his great uncle. One morning, the horse arrives outside his home, seemingly unable to feed itself or stay safe from coyote attacks. 6000 feet up, 30 miles from the nearest town and broken by alcoholism and anxiety, Al must decide what to do.

Intercut with Al's present-day story are episodes from his long life as a songwriter and guitarist. Beginning in Reno, we follow his chequered career as a touring musician, struggling to make ends meet and to survive the reality of a like devoid of the glitz and glamour of mainstream success.

Vlautin's new novel is a gorgeous homage to the uncelebrated musicians who make our lives more joyful, and, as always, an exploration of loneliness, humanity and resilience.

'Another classic from one of America's greatest storytellers.'

'A terrific parable of art and aging.'