Publisher's Review: In 1923, Byron Aldridge is working as the constable at a mill in Louisiana. Nimbus, the mill settlement, is somewhere in the bayou - miles from the nearest town and inches from the nearest alligator. Byron, the son of a rich Pittsburgh family, is embittered by his experiences on the Western Front and has spent the years since the war running from the future his father had planned for him. He has drifted into this post, charged with policing the boozing, brawling, and gambling of the mill workers.
Tim Gautreaux, a Louisiana Frenchman, tells this curious story with such unrelenting detail you can almost feel the heat. He also has a touch for a vivid phrase: "He fell out of step to avoid a mule dropping, and the pile moved, uncoiling toward the canal". The atmosphere of humidity and bugs is continually reinforced. Local events are shaped by outside influences the arrival of the telephone line, prohibition, mens experiences in the war. This is made more striking by the insularity of the region shockwaves from the war in Europe have rippled a long way, only to meet the still-present scars of the Civil War. After they find out where he is working, Byrons family purchases the mill and his brother Randolph heads to Nimbus, planning to convince Byron to return home. However, Randolph also settles in to life at the mill, and enjoys the differences from his genteel Northern background. Sending Byron home becomes less important as Randolph sees a chance to prove himself. The mill itself is profitable, but the mill workers live in a world of poverty and violence. The one saloon at the mill, selling bootleg liquor and taking the rest of the workers money at the poker table, becomes the centre of a spiral of violence and intrigue. With themes that are often brutal, this book has a strange elegance. Although Byron and Randolph are the main characters, we get detailed digressions into the experiences of those around them. I have rarely read a book where so many people are realistically portrayed. The layers of different characters' beliefs and motives are what make this story truly involving.
I liked this book so much I loaned it to a friend of mine to read. He returned it with glowing thanks saying he is sure it is one of those he would probably enjoy reading again in a few years. I combines action and history in the way Tim Gautreaux fans expect and like. You will appreciate the "old time logging" of the stands original cypress as it really was.
This is an excellent book - I went into it kind of reluctantly but was urged by a friend. It was simply amazing! Your emotions are tugged every way. There is also suspense thrown in with the fight between the two brothers and a mob boss. I highly recommend it!
picture the Sopranos in 1920's Louisiana swamp lumber camp, and toss in a traumatized vet and you get a great read
Tim Gautreaux is a superb writer, this is his second novel. This is a wonderful and moving story.
A really good view of the hearts and souls of men and the relationship between brothers. Well written for the visual reader and a fantastic story. I will read him again.
An excellent novel.
"'The Clearing' is a fine and exciting novel about place, work, violence, love, and loyalty. Tim Gautreaux is a literary writer unafraid to tell a brisk and jolting story that keeps the pages turning." Charles Frazier
"This novel soars in its evocation of a land and people lost to the mists of time. It's a story about men and women bound to a great forest by their destruction of it, and the great ties of family and blood, and evil and greed and good, and human tragedy and human triumph. Mr. Gautreaux has written a book that lives on in the mind after the last page is read." Larry Brown
"As a reader passes through the contagion of violence within this story, what is remembered are the tendrils of compassion and tenderness, small but enduring. Tim Gatreaux is a wonderful writer, and 'The Clearing' is a unique and fascinating story." Rick Bass
"I have long been an avid admirer of Tim Gatreaux, but after reading 'The Clearing' I came to a rare and notable state of mind as a reader. Hereafter, as with Mississippi and Faulkner, Northern California and Steinbeck, Georgia and O'Connor, when I think of Louisiana, I will hear the voice of Tim Gatreaux. He has for me become an enduring presence not just in the world of books but in the American landscape." Robert Olen Butler