“Gautreaux, like some Bayou Conrad, manages to combine verbal luxuriance and swift, brutal action to devastating effect.” – The New Yorker
"Offers so many pleasures, from Gautreaux’s confident prose—a wonderful mix of the tangible and metaphorical—to its . . . accomplished storytelling." —The New York Times Book Review
“A book of sinew and style.” —The Boston Globe
“Reading Tim Gautreaux's marvelous second novel, The Clearing, is like immersing yourself in a film during daylight hours, losing complete track of time. When you emerge from the theater, blinking and stunned by the sunshine, you're unwilling and unready to resume your normal life. You don't want the story to end.” —Los Angeles Times
“A compelling look at one man and his family, barely alive but deeply human. In him, it is not hard to recognize ourselves.” –San Francisco Chronicle
"A postmodern masterpiece. . . . Gautreaux has created, out of antique characters and a 1923 Louisiana backwater, a parable about coping with modernity. About us. And he reminds us that great writing is a timeless art." –The Miami Herald
“The Clearing is his very best yet, and to say that of Tim Gautreaux's writing is to say something is very fine indeed. . . . . Wit, wisdom and heart are all combined in perfect proportion in this astonishing and unforgettable novel.” –The Times-Picayune
“Tim Gautreaux's The Clearing presents the reader with an interesting dilemma: do you give in to the stifling suspense and read quickly, to find out what happens to the novel's vivid characters, or do you go slow, savoring each delicious sentence, and thereby risking, by the climax, a nervous breakdown?” –Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls
"Inventive, carefully conveyed and energetic. . . . Tim Gautreaux has written a somber, serious, historical novel that assures us all that he is a rising force in fiction." –Chicago Tribune
“There's a terrible beauty to the novel. . . . It stands up well in comparisons with Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier's Civil War bestseller. Word for word, it's my favorite novel so far this year.” –Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today
“Gautreaux unfolds a story of love and lawlessness against a backdrop of swamp so vivid that it will have you checking the floor for coiled-up water moccasins.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"A haunted and heartbreaking portrait of 1920s Louisiana. . . . Gautreaux has emerged as one of our most graceful writers, an openhearted explorer of life's tiny beauties." –Esquire
“A fine and exciting novel . . . Tim Gautreaux is a literary writer unafraid to tell a brisk and jolting story that keeps the pages turning.” –Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain
"An astonishingly good novel, impressively and convincingly situated both in time and locale. . . . The way the author weaves music organically through this tale of redemption is yet another remarkable artistic and human achievement of The Clearing." –St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Gautreaux is a master at painting the swampy backwaters of 80 years ago, as well as the people struggling to survive there. His characters are all too human at best, and at worst as poisonous as a water moccasin; but like fine wood, there is still good grain in many of them.” –Fort Worth Star Telegram
“Gautreaux's insightful glimpses at human nature, unforgettable characters and total-immersion settings poise him for induction into the pantheon of great Southern writers.” –Rocky Mountain News
“The finest American novel in a long, long time.” –E. Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News
“At once tender and unrelentingly exciting. There are enough ghastly creatures slithering through this swamp to hold anyone's interest, and enough moral insight to enlighten anyone's conscience.” –The Christian Science Monitor
"Set in backwoods Louisiana after the first World War, this taut and unsettling novel . . . uses prose as rich and teeming as the swamps he brings to life." –The Baltimore Sun
“As a reader passes through the contagion of violence within this story, what is remembered are the tendrils of compassion and tenderness, small but enduring. Tim Gautreaux is a wonderful writer, and The Clearing is a unique and fascinating story.
–Rick Bass, author of The Hermit’s Story
“You can cut the atmosphere with a knife . . . exotic and electric.” –Denver Post
“Classic Southern storytelling, hallucinogenic intensity of description, and obsessive and authoritative attention to historical detail . . . the richest taste of fictional Americana since Cold Mountain.” –Elle
"Extraordinarily compelling and unsettling." –Chicago Sun-Times
“I have long been an avid admirer of Tim Gautreaux, but after reading The Clearing I came to a rare and notable state of mind as a reader. Hereafter, as with Mississippi and Faulkner, Northern California and Steinbeck, Georgia and O’Connor, when I think of Louisiana, I will hear the voice of Tim Gautreaux. He has for me become an enduring presence not just in the world of books but in the American landscape." –Robert Olen Butler, author of A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain
“A dense, masterfully written story of filial ties and a struggle for decency and redemption in a heart of darkness. . . . The tale is imbued with such delicacy and even beauty that it not only affects but astonishes.” –Entertainment Weekly
"Gautreaux . . . writes like a man who's good with his hands. His efficient prose is meticulously crafted with a carpenter's pride and infused with a visual clarity that becomes almost visceral." –San Antonio Express News
“Tim Gautreaux writes what he knows: a South so deep and dark that [its] people and places . . . take on an exotic sheen.” –Boston Phoenix
"Not many writers can put you into a scene with more exactness than Gautreaux. . . . The Clearing crept up and startled me with a mastery evident from the first page.” –Charles Matthews, San Jose Mercury News
“This dark story, told in the clearest prose, compels you forward like a handcar on a downhill slope, until the final escape. With The Clearing, Tim Gautreaux makes himself a clearing on the shelf of books you have to keep. You read it in wonder.” –Kent Haruf, author of Plainsong
There's a terrible beauty to the novel -- to use William Butler Yeats' line about the bloody Easter Uprising of 1916. Gautreaux writes beautifully about terrible things, about war and life and death in a backwater timber mill in 1923. Bob Minzesheimer
Reading Tim Gautreaux's marvelous second novel, The Clearing, is like immersing yourself in a film during daylight hours, losing complete track of time. When you emerge from the theater, blinking and stunned by the sunshine, you're unwilling and unready to resume your normal life. You don't want the story to end. Bernadette Murphy
In the years just after the First World War, two brothers find themselves beset by rains, vipers, and gangsters. Randolph, the younger and stodgier of the two, has been sent by their father, a censorious Pittsburgh timber baron, to track down Byron, the family favorite. Byron turns up in a sawmill sunk in the middle of a rank Louisiana swamp, but his experiences in the war have changed him from a swashbuckling rogue into a half-mad, sentimental thug, whose only pleasure is listening to scratchy ballads on a dilapidated Victrola. Randolph soon becomes enmeshed in his brother's violent world, and Gautreaux, like some Bayou Conrad, manages to combine verbal luxuriance and swift, brutal action to devastating effect.
Other qualities in Randolph's makeup mitigate the novel's savagery: his optimism and efficiency, as well as the sort of inexorable will that can turn acres of trees into dollars. Progress and its discontents are familiar subjects for the novelist, but in this fine book Gautreaux reminds us that resistance to progress has its own dangers.
A godforsaken mill town in the cypress swamps of Louisiana is the setting for a bitter power struggle in this darkly lyrical, densely packed second novel by Gautreaux (The Next Step in the Dance). In 1923, Raymond Aldridge sets out for the mill town-called Nimbus-in search of his brother, Byron. The two men are the heirs to a Pennsylvania timber empire, but ever since Byron came back from World War I, he has shunned his family. Before the war, he was a charming young man with a charmed life; now he works as a constable at the Nimbus mill and listens obsessively to sentimental popular tunes on his Victrola. When Raymond arrives, he assumes charge of the mill, which his father has purchased, and tries to understand how and why his much-admired older brother has come to this pass. Their reacquaintance is complicated by Byron's feud with a gang of Sicilians who control the liquor, girls and card games that make up the only viable entertainment in town. In battling them, Byron has turned as ruthless as they, and killings are as common as alligator sightings in Nimbus. The violence turns even deadlier when three women are mixed up in the fray: Raymond's feisty wife, Lillian; Byron's sturdy wife, Ella; and May, Raymond's almost-white housekeeper, who gives birth to a son who looks remarkably like an Aldridge. Gautreaux's prose is gorgeous, though his virtuosic images ("a nearly blind horse... its eyes the color of a sun-clouded beer bottle") sometimes pile up precariously, threatening to teeter into overkill. The novel adroitly evokes the murky miasma and shadowy half-light of the treacherous Louisiana swamps, their gloom and murderous undercurrents echoing the grisly wartime slaughter Byron is unable to forget. Gautreaux is perhaps the most talented writer to come out of the South in recent years, and this all-enveloping novel further confirms his skill and powers. Agent, Peter Matson. (June 24) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
In this powerful story of pain, loss, and the healing power of love, northern lumberman Randolph Aldridge comes to the Louisiana swamplands in the early 1920s to run a mill his family has recently purchased. He also hopes to save his older, battle-scarred brother Byron, who works there as a constable. Byron's World War I experiences have left him emotionally wounded and estranged from the rest of the family. Randolph soon becomes involved in a bloody and steadily escalating conflict with a group of transplanted Chicago gangsters who control the area's liquor trade after the mill saloon is closed on Sundays. Set in a harsh landscape that engenders raw emotions, this gritty tale is by turns wise, violent, and compassionate. Gautreaux (Welding with Children) has crafted a darkly atmospheric novel that explores the evil done unto men and the evil they in turn do to others. Recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/03.]-Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, MA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Poisonous reptiles and pitiless Mafiosi menace a man trying to redeem his shell-shocked brother and re-craft a lumberyard in 1920s Louisiana. Far from the pleasures of the Jazz Age and the comforts of his wealthy Pittsburgh home, straight-shooting Randolph Aldridge faces evil on a scale to match the worst of the world war that drove his older brother Byron round the bend. Louisiana native Gautreaux (Welding With Children, 1999, etc.) knows his bayous and uses them to bring high tension to this story of vicious crime and equally vicious punishment. After fleeing civilization for a life in the West, Byron has turned up as a constable on the family's lumbering operation at the end of the creaky railroads east of New Orleans. Randolph, too young to have been in the war, follows his domineering father's orders to take over the messy operation and bring Byron back into the fold, a tall order. The roughnecks felling the ancient trees are a brutal lot who spend their wages at a Mafia owned tavern, routinely razoring each other. Byron has managed to impose a sort of legal presence, but he himself is a boozer, haunted by slaughter of the Great War. Randolph imposes order on the operation, but makes little progress with Byron, and he quickly makes enemies of the tavern owners. The little comfort to be found in this hellhole come from Randolph's nearly white housekeeper May, whose ticket out of the swamp is to be a white child, if she can just get pregnant by one of the brothers, and then from the arrival of Randolph's wife Lillian, who shows surprising strength, learning to shoot cottonmouths and acquiring a taste for the local cuisine. As the virgin forest shrinks, the mob comes slithering throughthe undergrowth and the Aldridges must face them down with a tiny force of mill hands. Almost overripe with swampy menace, but compelling and original.