The Clearing Paperback – 19 Jul 2004
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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)
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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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 Remote and withdrawn, hardened and stripped of feeling by exposure to violent death, sinking in the mire of profound melancholy, his mind is full of festering thoughts of the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.Read more ›
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.
The development of the character of the mill manager, his relationships with his brother, his wife and the folk he lived amongst, employed and was responsible for, was totally absorbing.
The books follows the relationship between the brothers and the day to day issues of violence & corruption within the poor employees.
I was hooked from the start and found it an excellent read
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".Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Couldn't relate or engage with any of the thin characters. Dull, dreary, nothing much happens to characters I couldn't summon the sympathy to care a damn about. Read morePublished 10 months ago by The Blue Recluse.
This is writing of the highest order. The simmering heat, period detail, finely-drawn memorable characters and explosive action alone would qualify it as Southern noir at its best. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Peter Mountford
Slow start but gets better and more interesting. Well written with great prose.Published 20 months ago by A.L. Cooper
Well written, engaging after a slow start, atmospheric,
and authentic .
Tim Gautreaux has produced a finely crafted novel set in the 1920's in one of America's most unique states, Louisiana. Read morePublished on 25 Nov. 2013 by John P. Jones III