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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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Paperback CDN $12.96  
Paperback, Deckle Edge, June 2 2009 CDN $15.88  

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 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 Offbeat with Eccentric Characters Jan. 8 2010
By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
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 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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Where do I begin? Oct. 4 2009
By Schmadrian TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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. 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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars sad novels, I decided to try something a bit ... July 26 2014
By Asia
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Not a typical novel July 31 2009
By BetsYi
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. As soon as i finished the book, i was expecting Toews' next book. Her extraordinary way to tell stories not only paints the image of her characters layer by layer, she also draws the relationship between her characters with detail, and take readers to experience a undescribable loneliness of each and all of her characters'. "the Flying Troutmans" is not about people making any specific accomplishment in life under social expectation. It is about searching for faith when one doesn't. It is not a book for everybody. It is a book for those who are willing to experience life spontaneously. It's a book that opens windows for readers to jump out the boredom of routine in life, into the unknown, onto the road trip to fly with the Troutmans.

I enjoy Mariam Toews.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I have read many of Miriam "s books with much pleasure, however found this one quite strange.
Published 3 months ago by Ina Mensink
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, funny, with warning
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 18 months ago by Stephen Soule
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, funny...REAL!
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 more
Published 22 months ago by Noreen Janzen
4.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful Toews book
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
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
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
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