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The Flying Troutmans Paperback – Deckle Edge, Jun 2 2009
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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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Top Customer Reviews
It was a satisfying tale of the bond of family ties and it was the relationship between an aunt and her niece and nephew that kept me fascinated. My niece turned eight months old while I was reading this tale and I could relate to Hattie's return to help her sister and her kids as I'm pretty sure there is nothing I wouldn't do for my little niece or my brother and fabulous sister in law.
My Review Partner's point about an epilogue is interesting. On the one hand, I would have liked to know what happened sometime down the road in their lives, but on the other hand, I like to have my own ideas of what their future held. I guess it depends on your preference, whether you will be satisfied with the ending, but it definitely doesn't all wrap up quite so neatly which is par for the entire novel.
Overall, if you want a quirky, Canadian read, this one fits the bill!
Summary: Hattie in Paris, who has just been dumped by her boyfriend, receives an urgent message from her niece in Manitoba to come home quickly. Hattie's sister Min is in a deep depression and needs to go into the hospital again and when Hattie arrives she finds the kids in a state. Teenage Logan retreats into his hoodie all the time, rarely speaks and the neighbors have a backyard full of hatchets. Thebes, on the other hand, does not stop talking, ever, and looks as if she hasn't changed clothes in a few weeks nor combed, let alone washed her hair in months. Hattie is totally not up to the job of looking after two children so she takes the children in the van on a road trip to the States to find their father whom Min chased out of their lives when they Logan was a toddler and Thebes newly born. With only the name of a place of where he was ten years ago they set off.
Comments: What a wonderful, brilliant book! A humourous, heart-felt, sometimes poignant story of a family of the most quirky characters. This family is both dysfunctional and each member is suffering their own mental health problems but they are also lovable, unique and become accepted to the reader just the way they are. The only character I didn't connect with nor grow to like was Hattie, who was quite negligent with looking after the children and as a 32yo woman had no excuse for her behaviour except that she daydreamed about her ex-boyfriend back in Paris and hadn't looked after children before. I didn't buy it. However, the children and Min (who we get to know through Hattie's memories) were extremely outlandish yet totally believable characters.Read more ›
It's economical. Spare. And maybe, just maybe, because of the core subject -depression- this was the perfect tack to take, rather than getting bogged down in narrative that provides more in its depth, but that depth ends up detracting from the power of this core.
Normally, I don't touch on 'what the story's about' in my reviews. Here, I'm going to make an exception. To a small extent. 'Troutmans' is a road trip. A road trip as told by a fractured, vulnerable, flawed narrator...whose own profile does not impact negatively on the story...something I consistently harp on about these days. Along with Hattie, there's Thebes, her 11 year old niece, and Logan, her 15 year old nephew. Both are, to most observers, intellectually heightened to the extreme...and maybe this is part of what would put off some readers. (I'll get to the major element of this effect in a moment.)
These two kids are so fantastically presented- Look; I'm a writer, I pride myself on being great with dialogue...but what Ms Toews comes up with repeatedly, what she lavishes on us by way of these two characters is... Well, at times, not only was I laughing, but I was almost applauding. The voices -for those who can hear them- are authentic to the point of being painfully so. In fact, my basic litmus test for any novel (and I'll confess here that I know this reveals a major prejudice of mine, so go ahead; sue me. But then, I am also a screenwriter...) is whether I'm compelled to see the tale in my head, as a film. Better yet, would I *want* to see it as a film, on the screen. In this case, absolutely, positively, beyond any shadow of a doubt.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I have read many of Miriam "s books with much pleasure, however found this one quite strange.Published 18 months ago by Ina Mensink
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.Published on April 27 2013 by Stephen Soule
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... Read morePublished on Jan. 4 2013 by Noreen Janzen
For me, Miriam Toews can do no wrong and she has done it again here. Wonderful prose, filled with wit and endearing characters.Published on April 16 2012 by Sarah Rogers
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 morePublished on Aug. 8 2011 by Manu Fan
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
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