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The Flying Troutmans [Deckle Edge] [Paperback]

Miriam Toews
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 2 2009 0307397505 978-0307397508
"Min was stranded in her bed, hooked on the blue torpedoes and convinced that a million silver cars were closing in on her (I didn't know what Thebes meant either), Logan was in trouble at school, something about the disturbing stories he was writing, Thebes was pretending to be Min on the phone with his principal, the house was crumbling around them, the black screen door had blown off in the wind, a family of aggressive mice was living behind the piano, the neighbours were pissed off because of hatchets being thrown into their yard at night (again, confusing, something to do with Logan) … basically, things were out of control. And Thebes is only eleven."
–from The Flying Troutmans

Days after being dumped by her boyfriend Marc in Paris – "he was heading off to an ashram and said we could communicate telepathically" – Hattie hears her sister Min has been checked into a psychiatric hospital, and finds herself flying back to Winnipeg to take care of Thebes and Logan, her niece and nephew. Not knowing what else to do, she loads the kids, a cooler, and a pile of CDs into their van and they set out on a road trip in search of the children's long-lost father, Cherkis.

In part because no one has any good idea where Cherkis is, the traveling matters more than the destination. On their wayward, eventful journey down to North Dakota and beyond, the Troutmans stay at scary motels, meet helpful hippies, and try to ignore the threatening noises coming from under the hood of their van. Eleven-year-old Thebes spends her time making huge novelty cheques with arts and crafts supplies in the back, and won't wash, no matter how wild and matted her purple hair gets; she forgot to pack any clothes. Four years older, Logan carves phrases like "Fear Yourself" into the dashboard, and repeatedly disappears in the middle of the night to play basketball; he's in love, he says, with New York Times columnist Deborah Solomon. Meanwhile, Min can't be reached at the hospital, and, more than once, Hattie calls Marc in tears.

But though it might seem like an escape from crisis into chaos, this journey is also desperately necessary, a chance for an accidental family to accept, understand or at least find their way through overwhelming times. From interwoven memories and scenes from the past, we learn much more about them: how Min got so sick, why Cherkis left home, why Hattie went to Paris, and what made Thebes and Logan who they are today.

In this completely captivating book, Miriam Toews has created some of the most engaging characters in Canadian literature: Hattie, Logan and Thebes are bewildered, hopeful, angry, and most of all, absolutely alive. Full of richly skewed, richly funny detail, The Flying Troutmans is a uniquely affecting novel.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

A road novel helped along by a lovably nutty cast, Toews's latest (after A Complicated Kindness) follows a ragtag crew as they crisscross America. Hattie, recently dumped in Paris by her moody, adjective-hating boyfriend, returns home to Canada after receiving an emergency phone call from her niece. Turns out, Hattie's sister, Min, is back in the psych ward, and her kids, 11-year-old Thebes and 15-year-old Logan, are fending for themselves. Thus the quirky trio—purple-haired, wise-beyond-her-years Thebes, recently expelled brother Logan and overwhelmed Hattie—embark on a road trip to the States to find the kids' long-missing father. What follows is a Little Miss Sunshine–like quest in which the characters learn about themselves and each other as they weather car repairs, sleazy motel rooms and encounters with bizarre people. Toews's gift for writing precocious children and the story's antic momentum redeem the familiar set-up, and if the ending feels a bit rushed, it's largely because it's tough to let Toews's characters go. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“Toews’s writing is a unique collision of sadness and humour. . . . The Flying Troutmans is a dark story but it is also a never-ending series of hilarious adventures.”
Ottawa Citizen

“Engaging, humorous, grim, and redemptive, this is essential reading.”
Library Journal

“It’s darkly funny, bursting at the seams with quirky characters and off-kilter pop culture references that rival Douglas Coupland’s for their incisive wit.”
The Vancouver Sun

“Toews may have invented a new genre, the romantic-depressive comedy, at which she excels.”
Toronto Star

“Toews has a terrific ability to capture the mix of irony and innocence in a smart child’s mind. . . . She balances heartbreak with laugh-out-loud wit.”
Edmonton Journal

“Toews writes . . . in a high-energy original voice filled with love, fear, humour and originality. Miriam Toews is an extraordinarily gifted writer, one who writes with unsentimental compassion for her people and an honest understanding of their past, the tectonic shifts of their present and variables of their future.”
The Globe and Mail

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars sad novels, I decided to try something a bit ... July 26 2014
After reading quite a few intense, sad novels, I decided to try something a bit lighter and an easier read. Having read "A Complicated Kindness" a few years back I remember really liking Toews style of writing so I gave this one a shot (I bought it used from a library for 2$!). I flew through this book. It was so relatable and the words just ran together so nicely it was hard to put down. The plot had a steady growth and the character development was phenomenal, especially with Logan. I loved all the flashback stories Hattie would talk about, really showed the essence of a dysfunctional but loving sister relationship. Thebes was definitely my favourite and I think a lot of young girls could relate to her quirkiness and eccentric self. The cover makes it look like a children's book but I think anyone preteen and up could enjoy it. The only thing I didn't like was how it ended, I felt like it left me wanting more!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flying Troutmans' Book Club selection June 24 2009
Our club selected this book. The rich character development and poignancy of the story appealed to all of us. We fell in love with Logan and Thebes and wished the story could've continued to find out more about their lives...a very enjoyable and humorous read for the summer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, funny, with warning April 27 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
A riff on Kerouac, sort of. But hilarious and more sober. Skates close enough to madness and death to maybe be a problem for some, but positive in its way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, funny...REAL! Jan. 4 2013
LOVE this book! Toews is a brilliant thinker and writer. The dialogue, the way those kids talk...SO real! (Although Thebes is way smarter than I was at 11 yrs old...) The protagonist Hattie sometimes made me mad - her carelessness with the niece and nephew under her watch - except that it was obvious she cared SO MUCH and was doing the best she could. (Like some people I know and love.) I found it quite suspenseful...what will she decide to do with the kids in the end? And I like how the absence of quotation marks makes everything flow more naturally. In my mind as good a book as A Complicated Kindness...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful Toews book April 16 2012
For me, Miriam Toews can do no wrong and she has done it again here. Wonderful prose, filled with wit and endearing characters.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing July 23 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read many of Miriam "s books with much pleasure, however found this one quite strange.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Understatement Nov. 30 2008
Toews just has a knack for writing kid characters that are hard to not relate to. She has them down to the melodramatic poetry they scribble into notebooks and it's simply incredible just how much growing up she can stuff into them without losing that sense of childhood.

She's a master of tragic, dark comedy and I'm so happy that she moved away from her Mennonite subject matter to tackle something new.
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17 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a Book I Enjoyed Nov. 29 2008
By MacFly
A couple of years ago, I tried to read A Complicated Kindness by Mariam Towes. I didn't enjoy it and it is one of a very few books that I did not finish. Many people who enjoy similar books to me loved A Complicated Kindness and I always wondered if I gave up on it too easily. Flash forward to today and I thought I would try again with her next novel, The Flying Troutmans. I'm sad to say that although I finished this book, I did not enjoy it. I did not find the characters likable, I wasn't a fan of the writing style and I didn't enjoy the story. There will be many who will love this book but I, a die-hard fan of Canadian authors, did not.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Quirky, Canadian Read
I enjoyed this novel with its quirky sense of humour and unique characters and don't think I've read anything quite like it. Read more
Published on Dec 23 2011 by Lydia - Novel Escapes
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Read
I went on a road trip and took the audio book out of the library. I didn't get a chance to finish the book on my trip, but I was hooked! I had to go and buy it for myself. Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2011 by Manu Fan
3.0 out of 5 stars Precocious
Humourous at times, though the extreme precociousness of the pre-teen girl often stretches the bounds of credibility.
Published on June 26 2010 by Dee Ottawa
2.0 out of 5 stars The Flying Troutmans
Found this book was just to much of the same thing - it seemed to go on and on, rather boring. The characters did not seem believable.
Published on Feb. 28 2010 by Anne Bulstrode
4.0 out of 5 stars Offbeat with Eccentric Characters
Reason for Reading: The publisher's plot synopsis grabbed me right away.

Summary: Hattie in Paris, who has just been dumped by her boyfriend, receives an urgent message... Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2010 by Nicola Mansfield
4.0 out of 5 stars Where do I begin?
This book is, in its own way, a stellar accomplishment. At the same time, not everyone will like it, not everyone will 'get' it. But man...what a ride.

It's economical. Read more
Published on Oct. 4 2009 by Schmadrian
2.0 out of 5 stars Only read it if you have to
The premise of the book is good. The way it's written isn't so good. I found several of the events and some of the characters unrealistic. Read more
Published on Aug. 29 2009 by Yoyo Mama
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a typical novel
It took me a while to finish Mariam Toews' last book "A Complicated Kindness", yet it is a book beautifully written with humors of unspoken sadness. Read more
Published on July 31 2009 by BetsYi
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