Through the brevity born of perfectly chosen words, and through the pervasive intimations of hope, Wieland transforms this story of lives on the edge into a psalm.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
The eccentric middle-aged Kern brothers have lived out their lives on an isolated backroad in rural Ohio, an area being surrounded by a strip-mining operation. The elder brother Harlan’s mistrust of the outside world has led them to sell most of their inherited farmland and live like hermits. Most of the novel concerns the bizarre sloth of the brothers’ routine— they haven’t worked since their parents died of food poisoning years before; when the living room of their house collapses into a sinkhole, they move into the kitchen; when the whole house falls into the pit, they move into a derelict school bus in the front yard. The focus of the narrative is on the essential difference in character between the brothers. With his venom, Harlan has driven away his long-suffering yet irascible mail-order bride. The younger brother, Erban, who had tried to intervene when Harlan refused to help his wife as she lay seriously ill, nonetheless remains loyal to his sibling in spite of many abuses, and comes to seem in his sweet-natured simplicity a kind of back-country saint.
This small gem of a book offers a transcendent portrait . . . Wieland is a meticulous craftsman using spare, quiet sentences to compose this spellbinding character study.
Booklist (starred review)
Immensely moving, reminding us that the story that seems the tritest can still turn out to be the truest.
The New York Times Book Review
Charming, upbeat . . . winningly sweet without being sentimental.
Willy Slater’s Lane is touching and funny and life-affirming.
San Antonio Express News
Mitch Wieland’s Willy Slater’s Lane is grand entertainment.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Willy Slater’s Lane leaves the taste in one’s mouth of a true veteran . . . . With a mix of wry humor and a tight heart, Willy Slater’s Lane marks Mitch Wieland’s powerful, inaugural emergence as a writer to be watched.
Oyster Boy Review
An elegantly written, strangely absorbing contemplative novel, fascinating to read. Willy Slater’s Lane can be placed in the impressive tradition of classics like Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio.
Madison Smartt Bell
This novel is a carol. It offers a clear view, a lucid interval. It shows once more that the way out is the way in . . . . This is a wonderful novel.
Willy Slater’s Lane has the potential to become a small classic on the order of Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day.
This is a novel that will establish Mitch Wieland as a unique and significant voice in American Fiction.
Willy Slater’s Lane is a vivid, haunting book . . . . that tells a parable of our time. Mitch Wieland is a natural storyteller. His sense of the commonplace macabre is reminiscent of Sherwood Anderson, as is his wise, quiet, and remarkably graceful style.