The Clearing

The Clearing

Tim Gautreaux / Nov 22, 2019

The Clearing The story of a murderous battle for control and a wise compassionate investigation into the bonds of love and family and of what sustains people through loss

  • Title: The Clearing
  • Author: Tim Gautreaux
  • ISBN: 9780340828908
  • Page: 398
  • Format: Paperback
  • The story of a murderous battle for control, and a wise, compassionate investigation into the bonds of love and family and of what sustains people through loss.

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      398 Tim Gautreaux
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      Posted by:Tim Gautreaux
      Published :2019-08-09T02:22:44+00:00

    About "Tim Gautreaux"

      • Tim Gautreaux

        Timothy Martin Gautreaux born 1947 in Morgan City, Louisiana is a novelist and short story writer who lives in Hammond, Louisiana, where he is Writer in Residence at Southeastern Louisiana University.His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Best American Short Stories, Atlantic, Harper s, and GQ His novel The Next Step in the Dance won the 1999 SEBA Book Award His novel The Clearing won the 1999 Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance SIBA Book Award and the 2003 Mid South Independent Booksellers Association Award He also won the 2005 John Dos Passos Prize.Gautreaux also authored Same Place, Same Things and Welding with Children collections of short stories His 2009 novel The Missing was described as his best yet by New Orleans Times Picayune book editor Susan Larson in a featured article Gautreaux notes that his family s blue collar background has been a significant influence on his writing His father was a tugboat captain, and his grandfather was a steamboat engineer Given those influences, he says, I pride myself in writing a broad spectrum fiction, fiction that appeals to both intellectuals and blue collar types Many times I ve heard stories of people who don t read short stories, or people who have technical jobs, who like my fiction In addition, Gautreaux has made clear that he is not interested in being classified as a Southern writer, preferring instead to say that he is a writer who happens to live in the South He is much comfortable embracing his Roman Catholicism, saying, I ve always been a Roman Catholic, since baptism, since birth.


    1. 4.5 stars"Nimbus—that place tethered to all of civilization only by a few miles of buckled railroad."When Randolph Aldridge arrived in Nimbus, Louisiana, it seems he truly stepped into another world entirely. Sent on a mission by his father, Randolph, or Rando, is assigned two rather hefty tasks – that of turning around a failing lumber mill and that of convincing the mill’s constable, who happens to be his brother, to return home to Pittsburgh and the family business. What Rando discovers [...]

    2. “This is a novel so firmly located and vividly realized that you can almost smell the Louisiana swampwater as you read. The dank cypress forests with their deadly wildlife – venomous snakes and lurking alligators – form the perfect foil for a violent, brooding narrative of revenge and reconciliation.” – Jem Poster, The GuardianIn a literal and figurative sense Tim Gautreaux’s book is a journey tale. In the 1920’s, two brothers from Pennsylvania travel to the Nimbus lumber mill in t [...]

    3. I am finding it hard to write a review that will do justice to this novel without resorting to over-the-top adjectives and lots of exclamation marks. Let me start with the beautiful language and metaphors that the author uses. Like "the many fanged geography" of the swamp, for one.I guess the best description of this story is multi-layered. There are layers upon layers of history, or personalities, of relationships, of love and hate and justice and personal responsibility. The way that all of th [...]

    4. This gorgeous, somewhat brutal story is about two adult brothers from Pittsburgh who together end up in a south Louisiana cypress forest. The Clearing is set in the 1920s - a time when clearcutting was done so thoroughly that the landscape afterward resembled the moon. Although there is plenty of money to be made, the end result is harsh and ugly. One brother is there in this backwater swamp to escape horrible memories of the war, and the other comes to save his much adored big brother from deep [...]

    5. This is a fascinating story of a lumber mill in Nimbus, Louisiana from the time it sits itself down in the midst of a Cyprus forest in 1923 until six years later with the felling of the Last Tree when it takes itself apart leaving a blind horse and a wasteland of Cyprus stumps. At the end of the story the principal characters, brothers Byron and Randolph, energetically ("grimacing or grinning, who could tell") pump a railroad handcar away from the cleared mill site “toward what they would have [...]

    6. Tim Gautreaux writes about the South and Louisiana the way you might speak of a old, mangy dog that you love but know others might not. His writing shows all the wounds and the rough underbelly of society, but somehow manages to convey that people who are struggling here are somehow more alive than their safer brothers in the settled North.There are so many dangers and frightening animals in these pages. Cottonmouth snakes and alligators and mosquitoes that cover men like second skins, but nothi [...]

    7. Gautreaux does so many things well, including things I didn't think I'd care about, such as the descriptions of mechanical objects. (I first noticed that in his short story collection.) He has an eloquent, lyrical prose style that creates vivid pictures in your mind as you read. His characters are complex and unique, and you come to care about them. He does interpersonal relationships well, without a hint of sentimentality. The dialogue is a pleasure to read, flavored with just a touch of dialec [...]

    8. This is a strong 4 rating! The author is so detailed with his descriptions of the land and the lumber camp that when the characters leave you feel homesick. It's amazing how detailed he was in describing the climate and weather of the south. Some may think, give it a rest but this detailing made me feel even more connected to the time and place. Many times I found myself scratching my arms just thinking of all the mosquitoes in that southern bayou. Gautreaux does an amazing job with the characte [...]

    9. The Clearing is not a book to go to if you're looking for fast-paced action or a driving narrative. It's got a slowly creeping sense of dread, but this will go down best if you're willing to accept its leisurely pace between horrific violences. It grows, slowly, until it reaches a flashover point. And at that point, no one can go back.Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you [...]

    10. A few minutes ago I turned the final page on The Clearing, Tim Gautreaux. I'm still trembling. From general exhaustion and distraction, it took me several days to get through the first 80 or so pages; this morning I went through three cups of coffee and 4 instrumental CDs to read the remaining 225. It's an extraordinary book, a captivating story- I learned something about an era (Prohibition), a place (the swamps of Louisiana), a people (lumber/millworkers) and got caught up with a family that b [...]

    11. Magnificent. Tim Gautreaux created a wonderful and compelling tale of two brothers running a saw mill deep in the Louisiana Bayou circa mid-1920's. This is a story about war: between nation-states during the First World War; between the Sicilian mob and the local deputies; and between humans trying to tame the harsh physical environment. But amongst all these conflicts there is deep concern and love towards others, especially between the brothers Randolph and Byron.While reading you can practica [...]

    12. The story seemed fine enough: One brother has returned from France during World War I a very different man (not uncommon, certainly), and he goes off from his Pennsylvania home to do whatever it is changed men do (ie, not settle down). His brother, Randolph, eventually finds him in Louisiana, goes to try to connect with him again, becomes in charge of the mill town, some other stuff happens, SICILIANS, gunfire, some snake drama, talky-talk, and yeah.It was fine.I expected this to be more like, I [...]

    13. Group Read: On the Southern Literary TrailComments: 'The Clearing' by Louisianan Tim Gautreaux has a lot going for it, but it also contains enough niggling disconnects and imbalances in plotting and character to make me wonder if the story itself was meant for the telling. Gautreaux excels with his lush detailing of the steamy, southern Louisiana bayou lumber mill and there are many fine passages of descriptive writing -- the author's precise rendering of the workmen bringing down the final cypr [...]

    14. This is the story of two brothers, one broken in the War in France, the other remained at home helping their father out in his wood mill business.The "whole" one, Randolph, finally finds the "broken" one, Byron, who's been lost to them for 4 yrs, wandering the US, doing work as a law keeper. It's Randolph's duty to bring Byron home.It's through the characters, though, that we're brought to the understanding about the horrors of all Wars, and how the men who return are all damaged, as how could t [...]

    15. The title has multiple meanings: a clearing of the conscience, a clearing of guilt, a clearing of the mind, and of course, a clearing of the land. There is less ecological emphasis in this book than in Serena; instead it focuses on a drama of violence and retribution, reminding me of a kind of Clint Eastwood movie, either The Man With No Name western series or Gran Toreno (however it's spelled). It is the story of two brothers who act as foils to one another at the beginning but gradually come t [...]

    16. This book is about war, destruction of natural timber, brotherly love, race relations in Jim Crow era, paternal love, steam engine locomotives, swamp creatures, love of music, technological change, .Gautreaux really knows his locale, reminds us of the french, italian and german immigrants that helped build it.

    17. This is a period piece set in a remote sawmill town in Louisiana just after WWI. A story about two brothers Byron and Randolph. Older brother Byron is the golden boy heir to the family timber business until he is sent as an observer and then later a combatant in WWI. He returns from overseas a changed man and promptly takes off drifting from town to town as a lawman wanting nothing to do with the family. The domineering father locates the prodigal in the milltown of Nimbus, buys the property and [...]

    18. Set in a Louisiana lumber camp in the 1920s, The Clearing sounded promising but proved otherwise, despite its many positive reviews. I would not be so cynical as to suggest that Tim Gautreaux had his eye on Hollywood, but his novel does read like Clearing – the Book of the Film. It is fiercely incident-driven, progressing by a series of confrontations, stand-offs, fist-fights, razor-fights, and gun-fights, with an occasional explosion and alligator-attack. Good guys and bad guys are firmly dem [...]

    19. Engrossing tale of two estranged brothers, one a mill manager for his father and the other a twisted wanderer who never recovered from his stint in the Great War. Byron, the veteran, has long been missing, wandering the west and south, taking odd jobs, many which require violence which he excels at, until he is settled in a bayou lumber camp as company lawman. A stringer for the father’s company finds the lumber camp and reports back to Pittsburgh, when dad buys the mill and dispatches Randolp [...]

    20. The story is so well developed that you find you must read it. You cannot, however, quickly read this without committing to it. The read is so richly detailed that you move along as though you're in the damp humid swamps of the lumber mill. The characters are vivid and heroic but are real in that they rise to the circumstances they are in without becoming more than human. From the World War I vet battling his demons to his mill managing brother trying to save him, save his mill from the elements [...]

    21. Its Louisiana just after the Great War and Randolph is sent by his aging father to monitor the progress of a new lumber mill that is being looked after by his brother Byron, not long home from the war, and deeply affected by it. It is at Nimbus, in a swamp a few hours train journey from New Orleans.Southern US in 1923 is in the midst of race issues, prohibition and gang warfare. Poachum (the loggers base) is almost lawless when Randoplh arrives and he attempts to instil some order.But, trouble i [...]

    22. When I started this book it felt like every other sentence was a simile. Either I got used to the style or Gautreaux stopped doing that so much because I eventually became less distracted by the figurative language. Still, the book felt like it was trying so hard to be literary. While I was reading I could picture myself in an English class discussing how setting is used to develop theme. That's fine as far as it goes, but not really what I was looking for.

    23. Casualties Wars of different sorts are a main theme in The Clearing, by Tim Gautreaux. It amazes me with the artfulness of the language and how the careful details put you in the place. I can easily imagine being knee-deep in Louisiana swamp water keeping an eye out for water moccasins gliding by. Two of the characters, both lawmen, have been through their own wars. The older saw the Civil War destroy his home, his father's dignity, the family's livelihood. The memory of running into the sugar c [...]

    24. This is a page-turner, a good read. It has a story that rampages forward and Tim Gautreaux has a turn of phrase that signifies literary quality. Yet it took me about three months to read it. I would constantly put it down and then have no inclination to pick it up again, instead finding something else to read. There are certain books that make me think they would make a good film: they have a clear story – or, more importantly, a story that breaks into dramatic scenes; vivid characters who are [...]

    25. I fell in love with Gautreaux after reading one of his short stories in the New Yorker--he's got that Southern thing down pat, the water and the green dark and the ruin and the snakes and the violence. I decided to read everything he'd written. Now I'm not as sure as I was: I love the writing, but I'm thinking he may be better for the short-story genre. Characters are a little boiler-plated, I fear, and the plot never just wound me up and dragged me along. Still, I do love the writing. The story [...]

    26. A high rating, because I could not bear to be too far away from this book over the past few days. It is very much like books I have admired by Robert Goolrick, and most recently, Richard Ford and Larry Watson. They share the qualities of American bewilderment: the ethics of confronting those without conscience, the creation of order where there is only vestigial law, and the inevitable compromises one risks when striving to rescue himself, or others. It is superbly written; one feels the sweat d [...]

    27. Mosquitoes and cottonmouths. Bateaux and choupique. Straight razors and jackknives. Bearded cypress and "mud-choked" swamp. Buckers and sawyers. Revenge and regret. Love between brothers and fortitude among women. A marshal and a priest. Nightmares and baby-making. Mafiosos and drunken whores. And a Victrola with "a male opera singer's voice winding out of place over the stumps and mule droppings." Welcome to 1920's Nimbus, a primitive sawmill town situated at the edge of hell on the bayous of s [...]

    28. This is a story about the Aldridge brothers, Byron and Randolph. Byron was in the first world war in France and returned very changed. He disappeared, frustrating his father who wanted his oldest son to take over the family business, lumber mills. The younger son, Randolph, had stayed home and continued working with his dad. When they got word that Byron was working as a constable in Louisiana, his father sent Randolph when they purchased a lumber mill in the same town. It was his father's wish [...]

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