Big Readers Forum Index


Group Read: Tim Gautreaux - Waiting for the Evening News
Page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Big Readers Forum Index -> Read a chosen book together
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
Posts: 731



PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 7:06 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

Yes, I think it is a feeling of  'differentness', but also of superiority. It is significant that both she, and the lawyer who is the father of her child, have British names, so are presumably of Anglo-Saxon descent (although purists would probably say their names are Irish and Scottish, so arguably Celtic). The Cajuns are of French descent, so a distinct cultural, if not strictly racial, community. Complex relationships, in any case.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 2:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jen M wrote:
The following interview with Tim Gautreaux is interesting:
http://www.southernspaces.org/200...cartographer-louisiana-back-roads †He says he doesn't write about race, he writes about people.

That was an illuminating link on him, Jen. There is so much information about his life from which he has drawn his characters plus the literary comments that I will have to read it all again when Iíve finished the book.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Chibiabos83
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3390


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for reviving this thread, Castorboy. I've been away for a week without regular internet contact, but will be back soon. I'll have another look at the notes I made as I read Waiting for the Evening News and see if there's anything else I can think of to say.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Chib has highlighted for me one of the motifs of the stories Ė the fundamental human goodness of the characters. Take the kindness of the mother in Returnings where she helps the Vietnamese pilot return to his base. She didnít have to help the pilot but she did, and felt happy about it; or in Deputy Sidís Gift where a middle-aged man arranges for his old car to be donated to a derelict younger man via the local cop, Sid. The car isnít worth much but I feel it is a tangible object to prove he is not unfeeling towards the no-hopers of his community; Welding with Children is a lovely feel-good story in which a grandfather makes a decision, a gift of love, to tidy up his cluttered backyard which in turn is a symbol of his intention to keep his grandchildren on a moral path before they become corrupted by the rubbish on TV. One feels that when he reads them a bedtime story it will include The Ten Commandments; Another tangible object, a developed film, given as a gift to a young woman is at the heart of Misuse of Light. Even though his gesture causes her unhappiness, instead of ignoring her plight he perseveres till he restores her to sanity; While the actions of the priest in Good for the Soul may be part of his pastoral care, and land him in trouble with the law, he takes delight in the appearance at a church service of the man he served.  

To me, these five stories are examples of a writer who understands human nature, and uses it to create believable people in realistic circumstances in his home state of Louisiana.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chibiabos83 wrote:
Short stories, being short, have to make their mark. One way of doing that is to have an arresting opening... Another way is to have a satisfying ending, and there were quite a few stories in this collection that made me sigh with admiration as I got to the end, just because they felt so absolutely right. I'm thinking of Resistance, for instance, where an old man helps his neighbours' daughter with her science project. The girl's father is a brute. He insinuates that the old man may be a paedophile, and trashes the science project the night before it is due in. The old man stays up all night remaking the project, as once his own father did for him. He presents the girl with it the following morning, and she takes it without thanking him, just as he failed to thank his father. The story ends with him going to his father's grave and giving thanks. I can't think who wouldn't be moved by the circularity of this man living the actions of his own father, two generations later. I dare say it's a simple enough device for a writer to use, but in this instance it's very well done.

The reason I say I could cut the book down by about half its length is partly because some of the stories were just too bleak in their resolution for my taste. True to life, I'm sure, but not as I would have liked them. That was the case with The Pine Oil Writers' Conference (among other stories), where a minister who dreams of being a writer has an epiphany on a residential course when one of the tutors says he is the best new writer she's seen for years. He doesn't write another word, and his roommate makes a fortune writing pulpy thrillers. There's so much hope in Gautreaux's characters that I want things to work out for them... Occasionally there was a story like the ghoulish Rodeo Parole that was too unpleasant for me, not that I have a particularly weak stomach. Can anyone enlighten me as to its message? It felt like a fable.

I agree with you, Chib, about Resistance and TPOWC, and I canít add anything else  of note.

As to Rodeo Parole I can only think the message is that desperate prisoners will do anything to shorten their sentence. In one case Rex Ted accepts that he will be crippled Ė a punishment he is willing to endure in exchange for a parole into the community. In the other case the murderer, knowing that he would never be released from prison, lets the bull kill him rather than do the obvious and commit suicide in his cell. I found it the one story in the collection which didnít have any sympathetic characters to wonder about.
I liked the opening of Dancing with the One-armed Gal where I was led to believe the man is a slacker with his head full of dreams of life as a cowboy. When he loses his job he drives off to the west and Texas. On the way he gives a lift to a woman who dreams up a personal history in order to obtain another teaching post. It is a mini road-trip tale with at least the possibility of a happy ending for the man.



Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Big Readers Forum Index -> Read a chosen book together All times are GMT
Page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4
Page 4 of 4

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Card File  Gallery  Forum Archive
Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group
Big Readers Theme by Mike Alexander
Based on Artemis by Vjacheslav Trushkin
Create your own free forum | Buy a domain to use with your forum