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The Missing

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The Missing Cover

ISBN13: 9780307270153
ISBN10: 0307270157
All Product Details

 

Review-A-Day

"Tim Gautreaux's new novel is set right after World War I, but so much of his peripatetic story involves the adventures of an old Mississippi riverboat that it's hard not to think of Mark Twain. Indeed, there's something 19th-century about The Missing, this slightly improbable, morally serious but continually engaging novel about a kidnapped child. If you've been complaining that nobody writes novels as they used to, this could be your book for the spring." Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The author of The Clearing ("the finest American novel in a long, long time" — Annie Proulx) now surpasses himself with a story whose range and cast of characters is broader still, with the fate of a stolen child looming throughout.

After World War I, Sam Simoneaux returns to New Orleans determined to leave mayhem and destruction behind, and to start anew with his wife years after losing a son to illness. But when a little girl disappears from the department store where he works, he has no recourse but to join her musician parents on a Mississippi excursion steamboat, hoping to unearth clues somewhere along the river. Though ill-prepared for this rough trade in hamlets where neither civilization nor law is familiar, he enforces tolerable behavior on board and ventures ashore to piece together what happened to the girl — making a discovery that not only endangers everyone involved but also sheds new light on the murder of his own family decades before.

Against this vivid evocation of a ragged frontier nation, a man fights to redeem himself, parents contend with horrific loss, and others consider kidnapping either another job or a dream come true. The suspense — and the web of violence linking Sam to complete strangers — is relentless, compelling, and moving, the finest demonstration yet of Gautreaux's understanding of landscape, history, and human travail and hope.

Review:

Tim Gautreaux's new novel is set right after World War I, but so much of his peripatetic story involves the adventures of an old Mississippi riverboat that it's hard not to think of Mark Twain. Indeed, there's something 19th-century about "The Missing," this slightly improbable, morally serious but continually engaging novel about a kidnapped child. If you've been complaining that nobody writes novels... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Gautreaux...again displays fluent prose, accomplished storytelling, and strong characterizations in this paean to the indefatigability of the human spirit. An exceptional novel." Booklist

Review:

"The Missing revisits the clash of post-World War I modernism with rural America that was at the heart of Gautreaux's acclaimed 2003 novel The Clearing. Only now he has expanded the tableau and created a grand story with unconventional heft." Miami Herald

Synopsis:

The author of The Clearing returns with the story of a man fighting to redeem himself, of parents coping with horrific loss, and of others for whom kidnapping is only a job, in this novel that brings to vivid life the exotic world of steamboats and shifting currents and rough crowds.

Synopsis:

The author of The Clearing (“the finest American novel in a long, long time”—Annie Proulx) now surpasses himself with a story whose range and cast of characters is even broader, with the fate of a stolen child looming throughout.

Sam Simoneauxs troopship docked in France just as World War I came to an end. Still, what he saw of the devastation there sent him back to New Orleans eager for a normal life and a job as a floorwalker in the citys biggest department store, and to start anew with his wife years after losing a son to illness. But when a little girl disappears from the store on his shift, he loses his job and soon joins her parents working on a steamboat plying the Mississippi and providing musical entertainment en route. Sam comes to suspect that on the downriver journey someone had seen this magical child and arranged to steal her away, and this quest leads him not only into this raucous new life on the river and in the towns along its banks but also on a journey deep into the Arkansas wilderness. Here he begins to piece together what had happened to the girl—a discovery that endangers everyone involved and sheds new light on the massacre of his own family decades before.

Tim Gautreaux brings to vivid life the exotic world of steamboats and shifting currents and rough crowds, of the music of the twenties, of a nation lurching away from war into an uneasy peace at a time when civilization was only beginning to penetrate a hinterlands in which law was often an unknown force. The Missing is the story of a man fighting to redeem himself, of parents coping with horrific loss with only a whisper of hope to sustain them, of others for whom kidnapping is either only a job or a dream come true. The suspense—and the complicated web of violence that eventually links Sam to complete strangers—is relentless, urgently engaging and, ultimately, profoundly moving, the finest demonstration yet of Gautreauxs understanding of landscape, history, human travail, and hope.

About the Author

Tim Gautreaux is the author of two previous novels and two collections of stories. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Harper's, and Zoetrope, as well as in volumes of The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Best American Short Stories. A professor emeritus in the creative writing program at Southeastern Louisiana University, he lives with his family in Hammond.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Robert Moyer, June 16, 2009 (view all comments by Robert Moyer)
Tim Gautreaux brings his evocative prose and his protagonist, Sam Simoneaux, out of the bayous into New Orleans for his latest novel. Sam, nicknamed Lucky because he got back from WWI without firing a bullet in battle, cadges a cushy job in a downtown New Orleans department store. Then, one day, a gang of toughs conks him on the head and absconds with a three-year-old girl. They run out of the store with the child, and Sam’s luck. He gets fired, and can’t get a job because everyone knows him as the man who couldn’t stop the kidnappers. All he can get is a job on the dance boat where THE MISSING girl’s parents work. He signs on as third mate and second-rate piano player, in hopes that he can hop off at stops along the river to search for any clues to the child’s disappearance.

As the four-deck sternwheeler steams up and down the river, stopping at towns both large and small, the author matches his narrative to the meandering pace of life on the Mississippi post-WWI. Along the way, crowds of people hungry for the entertainment pour onto the boat from poor towns, and rich, All of them take to the “new” jazz, “the bounce and surprise of the music, the sass of the trumpet.” Some of the crowds just stand in awe, but the dancers, “they walked on the notes, the women turning and shimmying, throwing the spangled tassels on the dresses straight out until their youth sparked like struck flint on the rumbling dance floor.” Sam gets to sit in sometimes, “feeling sad enough to cry while making the dancers step and spin, and smile.” Whether playing along or moving the crowds along, Sam comes up with astute observations, providing context and commentary on life along the river. In the middle of a crowd of people “spending money like water at a whorehouse fire,” Sam wonders “how much time was spent in the world protecting people from one another, folks who had no cause to fight, no reason at all.”

He also up comes with the identity of the girl’s kidnappers—the Skadlocks, who “…would carve out the pope’s eyeballs and bring ‘em to you in a coin purse if you was to pay enough.” Sam figures somebody who saw her singing with her parents paid them enough to “…save her from a musician’s life.” Sam’s tenacity ultimately brings him to the girl, but also leads him and her family on a journey tinged with painful loss. In any other novel, the return of the child would be the end of the story; in Gautreaux’s hands, it is simply the beginning of the end. There is more missing in this meaningful story than just a little girl.

When Sam first meets the girl’s parents, he realizes he “...was only one person in a planet full of incomplete seekers, and now the Wellers had joined him.” He himself lost not only his entire family when he was six months old, but his only child. As the story progresses, the void left in his life by that tragedy looms much larger; he feels an “immeasurable and growing loss.” He begins “to greet the phantom waiting in every room, to long for the ghost in the kitchen chair.” He even has a dream, himself in someone’s lap like he is holding the child, “…his stomach full, and a callused hand pressed down on it as though holding a jewel secure.” When he realizes he had “rescued the child, but so far as (she)was concerned, he’d brought only part of her back,” he endeavors to bring her all the way back. It is this book’s accomplishment that Sam brings them together through “…a door that had been locked between them,” into a resolution of both of their losses. It is the author’s accomplishment as well, that he does so with prose as lyrical as the jazz he so obviously loves to write about, prose that makes “…hips to slide, feet to rise like boats lifted on a freshet of notes.” Few novels this year will hold so much story, craft, and song.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307270153
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Literary
Author:
Gautreaux, Tim
Subject:
Missing persons
Subject:
World War, 1914-1918
Subject:
Louisiana
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Publication Date:
20090303
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9.48x6.60x1.37 in. 1.46 lbs.

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Missing
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 384 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780307270153 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "Tim Gautreaux's new novel is set right after World War I, but so much of his peripatetic story involves the adventures of an old Mississippi riverboat that it's hard not to think of Mark Twain. Indeed, there's something 19th-century about The Missing, this slightly improbable, morally serious but continually engaging novel about a kidnapped child. If you've been complaining that nobody writes novels as they used to, this could be your book for the spring." (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)
"Review" by , "Gautreaux...again displays fluent prose, accomplished storytelling, and strong characterizations in this paean to the indefatigability of the human spirit. An exceptional novel."
"Review" by , "The Missing revisits the clash of post-World War I modernism with rural America that was at the heart of Gautreaux's acclaimed 2003 novel The Clearing. Only now he has expanded the tableau and created a grand story with unconventional heft."
"Synopsis" by , The author of The Clearing returns with the story of a man fighting to redeem himself, of parents coping with horrific loss, and of others for whom kidnapping is only a job, in this novel that brings to vivid life the exotic world of steamboats and shifting currents and rough crowds.
"Synopsis" by , The author of The Clearing (“the finest American novel in a long, long time”—Annie Proulx) now surpasses himself with a story whose range and cast of characters is even broader, with the fate of a stolen child looming throughout.

Sam Simoneauxs troopship docked in France just as World War I came to an end. Still, what he saw of the devastation there sent him back to New Orleans eager for a normal life and a job as a floorwalker in the citys biggest department store, and to start anew with his wife years after losing a son to illness. But when a little girl disappears from the store on his shift, he loses his job and soon joins her parents working on a steamboat plying the Mississippi and providing musical entertainment en route. Sam comes to suspect that on the downriver journey someone had seen this magical child and arranged to steal her away, and this quest leads him not only into this raucous new life on the river and in the towns along its banks but also on a journey deep into the Arkansas wilderness. Here he begins to piece together what had happened to the girl—a discovery that endangers everyone involved and sheds new light on the massacre of his own family decades before.

Tim Gautreaux brings to vivid life the exotic world of steamboats and shifting currents and rough crowds, of the music of the twenties, of a nation lurching away from war into an uneasy peace at a time when civilization was only beginning to penetrate a hinterlands in which law was often an unknown force. The Missing is the story of a man fighting to redeem himself, of parents coping with horrific loss with only a whisper of hope to sustain them, of others for whom kidnapping is either only a job or a dream come true. The suspense—and the complicated web of violence that eventually links Sam to complete strangers—is relentless, urgently engaging and, ultimately, profoundly moving, the finest demonstration yet of Gautreauxs understanding of landscape, history, human travail, and hope.

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