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The Clearing Paperback – 19 Jul 2004

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The Clearing + The Missing + Waiting for the Evening News: Stories of the Deep South
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; New Ed edition (19 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340828900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340828908
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


So firmly located and vividly realised that you can almost smell the Louisiana swampwater ... a gripping, action-packed tale, but also a notably intelligent one (Jem Poster, Guardian)

Astonishingly powerful ... brilliantly written and the characters in their mire are superbly realised (Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph)

An extraordinary novel, one of the best I've read in years (Annie Proulx, Guardian Summer Books)

I cannot recommend it highly enough. (Peter Straus, Literary Review)

Gautreaux captures the fetid atmosphere of a frontier society poised to join the modern world with great skill, each sentence polished to perfection (Independent on Sunday)

Near-perfect ... untouchably good (Alan Warner, Daily Telegraph Summer Books)

Book Description

The novel that launched Tim Gautreaux internationally as one of the best contemporary American novelists - a gripping tale of courage, violence and moral choices set in 1920s Louisiana.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not as good as The Missing [See my report], but still a damn fine read. Set in a logging camp in the Louisiana swamps in the prohibition, roaring twenties. Gautreaux is again a master at setting the scene so well that you can almost feel the humidity , smell the sweat and hear the jungle. Any law is of the very rough justice, do it yourself variety. The official law enforcement is corrupt or totally ineffectual with the possible exception of
old sheriff Merville who is a decent man, but old and sick. The supply of alcohol and women to the camp is controlled by the sinister Sicilians . There is racialism and segregation between the not far removed from slavery blacks and the dirt poor whites. Disease is rampant and health and safety unheard of.
Against this background is the story of two brothers from a wealthy Pittsburgh industrialist family. One trying to come to terms with the horrors of his service in the Great War by hiding in the deep south ;the other sent down to find and save him from himself. Two men poles apart at this stage in their lives, but linked by a brotherly respect and yes, it is fair to say, love for each other.
The research is thorough, all the characters fully developed, the story fast moving, gripping and always believable.
Tim Gautreaux has quickly become one of my favourite writers. As with The Missing, this is a must read page turner.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Murphy VINE VOICE on 1 Aug. 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Clearing is a powerful, engrossing novel set in a remote logging camp deep in the treacherous swamps of the Louisiana bayou. Intensely atmospheric, the senses are saturated by Gautreaux's evocation of a humid, fetid, waterlogged hell-hole of a place teeming with all sorts of nasties that bite. Enclosing the Nimbus lumber mill clearing is the eerie, murky swampland. This god-forsaken backwater provides the backdrop for the suspenseful, expertly plotted story of the re-uniting of two brothers, Randolph and Byron Aldridge, sons of timber tycoon Noah Aldridge.
The year is 1923 and Byron has returned from the 1st World War sickened and traumatised by the mass-slaughter in the trenches. Remote and withdrawn, hardened and stripped of feeling by exposure to violent death, sinking in the mire of profound melancholy, his mind is full of festering thoughts of the horrors of war. A Drifter, Byron is now the lawman in the Nimbus logging camp meting out his own harsh brand of rough, tough justice to a motley crew of drunken, brawling, razor-swinging mill-hands and loggers who burn off steam by turning to the only saloon in camp for the solace afforded by alcohol, gambling and hookers, their only form of respite from the back-breaking, daylong slog of swinging saws. A more potent, sinister challenge to Byron's law in Nimbus is posed by a ruthless Sicilian group who control the saloon and its rich pickings. A savage, violent power struggle ensues, though Gautreaux never allows gratuitous violent to creep in.
At the start of the novel, Byron's whereabouts have been discovered and Noah authorises the purchase of Nimbus lumber mill, appointing Randolph as mill manager to exploit its rich potential but moreso to re-engage with Byron and shepherd him back into the family fold.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Scholastica on 6 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
Tim Gautreaux is a new discovery for me and, having just finished reading 'The Clearing' today I feel the same way that I did many years ago when I fist read 'The Shipping News'. Indeed, E. Annie Proulx has written a recommendation on the back cover of my copy.

This feeling is excitement at a new voice and some completely original (to me) writing. The men's world of logging camps in Louisiana in the 1920s doesn't sound the most appealing of backdrops, but meeting Byron, Randolph, Mr Mervin, May, Milo and Galleri, among others, made me wish that I had known them 'in real life'. I felt sad when I reached the end.

Highly recommended as a good read for anyone who has enjoyed E Annie Proulx's writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Dutiful younger son Randolph Aldridge agrees to work as manager as Nimbus, the mismanaged but potentially profitable sawmill his wealthy father has just purchased in the remoteness of the Louisiana swamps. His perhaps unlikely motivation is to bring back to the fold his elder son Byron who has been located working as a "lawman", or security guard, at the site. He has returned from the First World War in a shell-shocked state that leaves him by turns aggressive and depressed, certain only that he no longer wishes to take over his father's business. Byron's resolve to restrict the opening hours of the local casino-bar embroils him in a bitter feud with the Sicilian mafia boss Buzetti who runs the gambling, and Randolph also becomes involved in the conflict.

After a slow start, the plot gathers pace, veering between violent barroom brawls and minute descriptions of river steamboats, trains and various aspects of sawmill production, all of which Gautreaux must have researched in great deal and seems to find fascinating, although I often felt frustrated by the lack of a diagram to explain his descriptions. The book has something of a Wild West quality, except that the landscape is of course bayou and swamp in periods of muggy heat and rain, rather than arid desert, and intense manual labour replaces rounding up cattle on the plains.

My admiration for Gautreaux's "The Missing", with its often original poetic language and vivid sense of place, led me to seek out this book, which has the same qualities. Beneath the at times wearisome swashbuckling, there is a thought-provoking portrayal of how "a whole forest" of cypress trees is turned into "window frames and water tanks".
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