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