For example, lets look at some of the narrative arcs in the book. No one came from the house, so he slammed the door of the truck and coughed loudly. Gritty and real but with a glimmer of hope. Gautreaux's 12 stories move to a musical beat, and they're filled with both verbal surprises and sudden narrative twistssometimes into unanticipated violence, sometimes, contrarily, toward revelations of more decency and strength in his characters than we had believed them capable of. The stories were also very predictable, and it was all too easy for me as the reader to know what the characters would do eventually, and how the story would end long before it did end. He seemed to be asleep, even though he was out in the sun and his undershirt was wet as a dishcloth. He's charging along at 50 mph on his usual main line run, carrying a long chain of tankers and box cars filled with poisonous gases and chemical compounds.
He wiped his hands on a kerosene-soaked rag. I did enjoy this read, but I'm hesitant to give a star rating because it is the first short story collection I've read outside of school. The woman watched his moves, all of them. He looked around her at the peeling house and its broken panes patched with cardboard. The woman put her eyes all over him, and he knew what she was doing.
The unfortunate impact is that I could never want to visit this part of the world, but the story characters are for the most part content to live where they do and as they do. So Cambell goes to the prison to protect him but then finds out that was his slave son that he sold when he was a baby for money and then the sheriff finds the prisoner dead because he let himself bleed to death. The day turned hot as a furnace and his skin flamed with sweat. Gautreaux's snapshot stories gives us a open window on a mixed society full of ordinary folks, drunks, priests, wayward women, former academics, farm wives, scam artists, exterminators, backwoods Cajuns, Blacks, Good 'Ole Boys, and even a Vietnamese pilot. Gautreaux addresses themes of emptiness, loss, what it means to be good, the value of hard work well done. The old woman simply nodded, went back into her house, and got her son to go with her. He rode with the deputies back to the farmhouse and told them what he knew.
The fierce loyalty of family multi-generationally and friends comes through in many of the stories. Although she experienced loss, she remarries and tells her unborn child that her loss was great but led to her discovery of the world remaining good, even after tragedy. His father was a tugboat captain, and his grandfather was a steamboat engineer. Just as she is frightened of snow, she is frightened to live her life without a man. It follows an itinerant water pump repairman who finds a dead farmer, then is sexually pursued by his beautiful young widow, who turns out to be the killer, who assaults him by tales end. But his closely observed ne'er-do-wells, who often prefer the barroom scene and resent their mundane jobs, are handled with gentle humor.
And where's the author in all this? The gifted Gautreaux harkens back to the early work of Flannery O'Connor. I'm unsure of the proper way to go about rating a collective work as each short story sort of had its own rating and I briefly considered just doing an average of them to get to a rating, except I felt like it would cheat the short stories I really, really loved. And besides, I never knew anyone who ever actually wrote about Catahoula! Most of the characters are hardscrabble, but their lives do not depress them because they are secure in a culture which brings people together in a sense of community. Those first two tales were also tales of the South, as all his tales are, and of losers in silly situations. Gautreaux however gave both tales some decent characterization, and the first tale ended quite well. He never exaggerates, never manipulates the reader's affections, but nonetheless he always captures the heart.
She went a little mad after a frightening experience in her childhood when the young master P'tit Maître came bloodied into her mother's cabin after a skirmish in the woods. Years later, though, fate decrees that Felix, now a prosperous businessman, should again come to the door of his Queen and suffer an even more hurtful rejection, filling him briefly with just one, and only one, bittersweet thought of what might have been: At once, he felt shriveled and sick, like a sprayed insect. At the store he called the sheriff and waited. If we can glean anything from these stunning stories it is that each of us is a daughter or son, father or mother, brother or sister. It was dry, and the ham tasted like it had been in the icebox too long.
In stories filled with heart and humor, event and consequence, the customs and culture of Louisiana come to life in the hands of a writer who blends rare talent with an even more unusual humanity. A satisfying collection of short stories for fans of Southern fiction and the genre. The thing about a properly designed mechanism is that there are no non-functioning parts. I would recommend all of Tim Gautreauxs books. I think the more one knew about the area, the more one would appreciate Gatreaux's treatment of it. It was followed by a powerful ending with a Catholic Mass during which only the women are mentioned.
But he is set up by another slave named Wiley who steals meat and takes Daves girl and makes everyone think Dave is a bad person, and the slave owner makes Dave wear a piece of ham necklace for a really long time and he goes practically insane. Imbued with the rich roux of family, place, race, and religion that is the base of all good southern fiction. Now, in the Depression, life was so hard for them they trusted almost nobody. I did not especially like the fact that too many ended either with a twist or a vague state in which things have not been resolved. In stories filled with heart and humor, event and consequence, the customs and culture of Louisiana come to life in the hands of a writer who blends rare talent with an even more unusual humanity.