15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Parenting in the deep south
A superb novel, at least as good as Gautreaux's earlier work, "The Clearing". It begins with Sam Simoneaux, a Cajun, landing in France on Armistice Day, and his unit is assigned to clear unexploded ammo from 2 square miles of battlefield. They have no training, and they take casualties. One day they find an old French artillery piece, and they decide to fire it at a...
Published on 25 Jan 2010 by T. Burkard
3.0 out of 5 stars A little slow
The description of this book enticed me to buy it but I wasn't completely ensnared. Very descriptive but so slow that I found it a bit tedious.I love books set in the South, slow moving & humid (read William Gay). I couldn't empathise with the main character,he seemed stiff & unreal,but hey, I'm no writer!
Published 17 months ago by Lindylou
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Parenting in the deep south,
This review is from: The Missing (Paperback)A superb novel, at least as good as Gautreaux's earlier work, "The Clearing". It begins with Sam Simoneaux, a Cajun, landing in France on Armistice Day, and his unit is assigned to clear unexploded ammo from 2 square miles of battlefield. They have no training, and they take casualties. One day they find an old French artillery piece, and they decide to fire it at a large pile of shells they've stacked up. Instead, they hit a house, killing all its occupants save for a young girl. Sam befriends her, but of course there is no way he can do much for her. There are tens of thousands of orphans all over France.
Soon, we find out why he took such an interest: his family were murdered in a revenge attack when he was six months old. His father had saved his life by throwing him into the iron stove just before he was killed, and his uncle found him the next day. Although his uncle and aunt proved loving and wise parents, and he never found out about his real parents until he was six or seven, he always knew that somehow he wasn't quite the same as the cousins he was raised to think of as brothers and sister.
The main story starts a few years after the war, when Sam is married and working as a floorwalker in a department store (which sounds exactly like one I worked for in Michigan in 1959!). He likes his job, and is looking forward to a promotion, when a young couple tell him their 3-year-old daughter, Lily, has gone missing. Sam starts looking right away, but fails to order the doors locked in time; when he finds the girl having her hair cut in a dressing room on the fourth floor, he is hit from behind and rendered unconscious. Four days later, when he recovers enough to go into work, he gets the sack. The owner of the store tells him he can have his job back if he finds the girl.
For most people, this wouldn't be sufficient motivation to leave one's loving wife without any money and embark on a year-long quest. He signs on as third mate on the Ambassador, a decrepit Mississippi stern-wheeler where Lily's parents work. Lily is a precocious singer, so the theory is that whoever stole her must have seen her on the boat. The Ambassador makes a lot of money offering romantic days and evenings afloat, introducing America to black musicians and New Orleans jazz. Patrons bring aboard moonshine, and one of Sam's first jobs is to ensure that all knives and guns are checked in before customers board. He is one of the crew members responsible for breaking up fights. But wherever they land, Sam gets ashore to find out if he can a lead on Lily.
That's enough to get you started. Buy the book--I'd be very surprised if you regretted it. I may be a bit biased--I grew up in Michigan, and the deep south has long been a source of endless fascination. There were still a few Civil War veterans alive when I was young. And for all the propaganda you get about the deep south, I fell in love with it when I got to know it. Gautreaux evoked my memories of hot summer nights before the days of air-conditioning--when you sat out on the porch in the dark, drinking lemonade and listening to the crickets. Although this will be lost on Britons, this is a wonderfully atmospheric book, and one which will register with musicians everywhere. But most of all, it's a superb novel about what it means to grow up without parents, and why families are so important. It's also a very wise novel about revenge--the surest way to compound an injury is to become obsessed with revenge.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOTHING MISSING HERE,
This is the Wild West set in the deep south. The characters good, bad ,weak, strong and in some cases downright, disgustingly evil are drawn in detail. The technical descriptions of the paddler, the music and life on and off the river are convincing and enlightening.
This is not the river of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer. This is an altogether different scene. I would rank this with Larry McMurtry's best work, Pulitzer prise winner "Lonesome Dove", for raw frontier characters and a gripping yarn. I can not pay a higher compliment to a work of American fiction.
A 5 star must buy.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Missing,
That's not to say that the first was poor. In fact it was excellent so unbelievable that he can continue to improve.
It's one of those books you can't wait to finish but when you have you're actually sorry that it's over and want to go onto his next.
I've just bought his collection of short stories and even before I've started I know they'll be great.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Pitch,
This review is from: The Missing (Paperback)This, Tim Gautreaux's third novel, takes everything that was great about his first two and adds more. There's music, heartbreak, drollery, poetry, history, philosophy and an astonishing high-definition physicality built into (rather than bolted on to) a simple, compelling story of lost children and lost parents. Paragraph-for-paragraph there aren't many writers with his gift for conjuring the real world from thin air, and none I can think of who match that with the wry, humane complexity Gautreaux displays in this book.
The Clearing was a significant work, but comparison with this shows up its weaknesses; compare the two scenes where guns are drawn by the railroad tracks, and somehow the one in The Clearing looks a bit melodramatic, a bit unearned and earnest. The scene in The Missing, by contrast, mixes slapstick with righteous anger and contrives to find justice without bloodshed, closure without a body-count, some consolation without any feeling of that consolation being too easily gained.
This novel is full of music but does not contain one false note, and there isn't a page in it where that music doesn't sing and soar.
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Missing anything!,
This review is from: The Missing (Kindle Edition)Read this a while ago, but didn't get round to reviewing it at the time. I had read some good reviews for Missing, and am a fan of "period" fiction from the late 19th/early 20th Century (Ron Rash, Joseph O'Connor as well as the more obvious McCarthy, Woodrell, Gay etc), and often find that authors are very keen on authenticity to such an extent that the characters are more flawed/tortured than not.
Other than the very engaging plot about life as a musician/bouncer on a Mississippi Riverboat, the thing I liked most was the central character who retained his essentially good and trusting nature, even as he had been dealt a rubbish hand for most of his life. The upbringing he received from his father's brother and family, following the murder of his family went some way to explain how had turned out so well.
There are a number of very entertaining episodes in the book, and "Lucky's" interaction with the kidnappers and their customers are very well written and compelling.
Can't recommend it highly enough.
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving story of loss,
This review is from: The Missing (Paperback)This book has everything, human relationships, fascinating historical background and a strong sense of place, but threaded through all this is a moving story of a man who has suffered huge loss through an act of brutal inhumanity and who is enabled to come to terms with his own childhood trauma through his literal search for a lost child.
I came upon Tim Gautreaux by accident - I am now anticipating his other books with pleasure.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read,
3.0 out of 5 stars A little slow,
This review is from: The Missing (Paperback)The description of this book enticed me to buy it but I wasn't completely ensnared. Very descriptive but so slow that I found it a bit tedious.I love books set in the South, slow moving & humid (read William Gay). I couldn't empathise with the main character,he seemed stiff & unreal,but hey, I'm no writer!
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly original read,
This review is from: The Missing (Paperback)Do you want to take a trip aboard a pleasure steamer on the Mississippi in 1920s Louisiana? Do you want to meet the singers and musicians, the river pilots and the engineers who keep the whole (very shaky) enterprise afloat and provide entertainment up and down the river in the summer months?
Tim Gautreaux has skilfully recreated a lost world of the Mississippi - and a world that had me fascinated from start to finish. The storyline is simple - Sam Simoneaux works in a department store in town when a child goes missing in the shop whilst he is on duty. As a result, Sam loses his job. He is told, however, that he can have his job back if he finds the child. The child's parents are a singer and a musician, working on the steamboats that steam up and down the river, stopping at the towns en route so that partygoers can come aboard and drink, dance, fight... until the boat returns to shore and they can go back to their normal lives. Sam joins the crew and thus we too follow his progress upriver in search of the child.
I loved the detail of the boat and the detail of people aboard, I loved the landscape which Sam must travel in order to locate the child. I loved the frontier feel - where law and justice don't mean quite the same things, where life comes cheap. Yet there are wise people too and Sam is pulled between both sides. We follow his choices.
This is an original read and one to recommend to people who have enjoyed Annie Proulx's writing.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A study of loss.,
This review is from: The Missing (Paperback)This story wonderfully evokes life just after the First World War in the Southern States of America. We meet Sam initially when he has signed up and been posted to France to fight, but fortunately for him, when he arrives the war is over and he is sent to clean up war-torn fields. The descriptions here beautifully illustrate the futility of war, and the awful experiences of those who were unlucky enough to have been caught up in any war. In particular, Sam would be just about the last person to be sent to fight as he is a true pacifist. We learn early on that he has been bought up by his uncle after the tragic murder of his family, but even so his uncle has instilled in him the values of humanity, and the pointlessness of revenge. I would consider Sam to be a pacifist, and definitely not a coward as others would try to make out. He is a good man, and as the story unfolds of the kidnap of the little girl and all the repercussions that follow he always tries to do the right thing. This does lead to a moral dilemma, where he makes a decision that is not his to make, which leads to major ramifications. In all that happens it is the power of the people who are missing that have so much effect on those who are there.
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The Missing by Tim Gautreaux (Paperback - 21 Jan 2010)
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