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Same Place, Same Things Hardcover – September, 1996

20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Louisiana is a state like no other. Why is it so strange? Mostly because of the people who live there, some of whom constitute the characters in this quirky collection of short stories, the first collection by Tim Gautreaux. There's a cold-feeling grandfather who is forced to raise his infant grandchild after his own child dies and who knows little more than to offer shotgun shells as toys; a pump repairman during the Great Depression who runs from the death of a farmer and his pursuing wife; and a drunken train engineer who crashes with a cargo of chemicals and becomes a fugitive.

From Publishers Weekly

In this memorable debut collection of a dozen stories, Gautreaux transforms working-class Louisiana?with its Cajun accents, savory gumbo and strawberry wine?into a fertile landscape for epiphany. And thanks to his honey-smooth prose, the truth behind the complexly drawn characters and their often desperate circumstances is subtly and resoundingly revealed. The startling image of a baby playing with shotgun shells opens "The Courtship of Merlin LeBlanc." Aging Merlin must care for his baby granddaughter after his daughter, a woman with a troubled, drug-ridden past, dies in a plane crash. Merlin's attitude toward child-rearing?"He was a man who never offered his children advice yet always marveled at how stupidly they behaved"?has resulted, indirectly, in their lost lives and early deaths. But visits by his cantankerous forebears?his 76-year-old father, Etienne, and his ancient grandfather, Octave?make him understand the importance of this final chance to parent well. In the remarkable title story, a Depression-era pump repairman finds his traveling life the object of envy by a seemingly forlorn, poverty-stricken housewife. But when he realizes the depth of her desperation to escape "the same place, same things, all my life," it's too late. The final piece, "Waiting for the Evening News," in which an unhappily married train operator celebrates his 50th birthday by getting drunk on the job, only to have the train crash in what turns out to be a national disaster, won the 1995 National Magazine Award. Gautreaux's empathy for his characters strings a shimmering thread of hope and redemption throughout these dramatic, compelling tales.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 211 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st edition (September 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312147279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312147273
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tim Gautreaux is the author of two previous novels and two collections of stories. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Harper's Magazine, and The New Yorker, as well as in volumes of the O. Henry and The Best American Short Story annuals. A professor emeritus in English at Southeastern Louisiana University, he lives with his family in Hammond.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
For the last ten years, short stories have repeatedly peaked my disinterest -- until I discovered Gautreaux. But while he captures the south Louisiana joie de vie better than any other writer (he's good at nailing north La. redneck life, too), that's not why I like him so much. I like him because he can flat out tell a story that is simultaneously meaningful and entertaining. And he's funny. Let me repeat that. He's funny. Too many writers are all blood and guts and whodunit and whowenttobedwithit. Few make you laugh. Gautreaux does. He's also hard- boiled at times and poignant, too. Little Frogs in a Ditch, The Bug Man and Floyd's Girl are my favorites. His first novel, The Next Step in the Dance, is worth reading but he needs work on mastering the plotting and pacing components of the longer form. But don't miss the first short story collection to rival Flannery O'Connor's work.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By debra crosby on August 29, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Being of Cajun heritage, I enjoy reading Southern literature, but at its worst, it is a bad mix of standard stereotypes: white trash, hound dogs, trailer parks and bad men and loose women. Gim Gautreaux gets it right! He gently (often humorously) takes a good, long look at Louisiana, and his vision is sharp without getting mired in cliches. The title story is dark and poignant, and its characters are interesting and multi-dimensional. I want to read more of Mr. Gautreaux; his view of the world is just quirky enough to be fascinating, but not so strange that I don't want to visit that place! And besides, I never knew anyone who ever actually wrote about Catahoula!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Returnings," "Deputy Sid's Gift," and "The Bug Man," were my favorites, but anyone who has ever lived in or visited Louisiana can relate to and identify with these Louisiana life experiences about simple life that is not always so simple. The author once taught me creative writing during my time at SLU in Hammond, Louisiana, and as I read his books, he continues to teach me with his literary writing that puts a sparkle in any Louisiana tale with his elegant wit, style, and humor. I recommend this book for any writer who wants to learn to write well-written short stories and any reader who loves a good Louisiana tale!!! I devoured these tales as they took me back to Louisiana and another time and place. Barbara J. Robinson
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn Bonano on February 27, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had the privilege of attending a writer's conference in Indiana where the author was an instructor. He was the kind of person one wants to observe, to be around. Funny, smart, very gentlemanly toward his wife and the attendees! His stories in this book reflect Mr. Gautreaux's innate ability to observe people of all sorts. His is a rare talent. Highly recommend this book to readers to enjoy all fiction, especially Southern fiction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
The only way I could tell you what these stories are "like" would be to hand you the book and say, "Go read some." Only the words of the stories, themselves, can communicate their content--which, come to think of it, is a good definition of successful new art. To label these stories would just spoil your pleasure in discovering them.
Better for me simply to tell you that a person like me loved them, and is rushing to get Tim Gautreaux's other books. And who is a person like me?--a busy, successful, perceptive, cynical, and creative scientist who dislikes both manipulative sentimentality and self-referential academic rhetoric. I generally prefer history or Richard Dawkins to fiction. When I need an escape, I read Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe). Now I'm going to read Tim Gautreaux, who is an escape into reality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Guild on December 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
I had never heard of this writer,but the book looked like it might be a good read.What a surprise,Gautreaux is as good as it gets,when reading about the earthy life of the Deep South.I have been a big fan of Erskine Caldwell for many years and have read all his novels and many of his short stories. Like Caldwell,
Gautreax's short stories are so good ,it is like reading a chapter of one book,and you are left wishing the story would continue.Then again,many of Caldwell's novels take place in only a couple of days.Good examples are "God's Little Acre" and "Tobacco Road".One can only imagine what the life story ,filled with the trials and tribulations of this hard scrabble life would be.
If you like this type of reading,you're probably already familiar with Caldwell,Steinbeck,Williams and other great Southern writers.There's no doubt in my mind that Gautreaux belongs in that company.I understand he was a Creative English teacher and now retired.Much the same as Frank McCourt of Angela's Ashes.How about it Tim,I'm sure you could give us another great Southern novel.It's been too long since "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof","Streetcar Named Desire","East of Eden" or "Tobacco
Road".
You can see his skill in these lines:

"He had been in this country long enough to know that farm
people did not want you on their porches unless you were
a relative or a neighbor."

"Lady,people around here wonder what the trees are up to when
they lean with the breeze.What you think someone that sees
us is going to think?"

"That story's sadder'n a armless old man in a room full of
skeeters.You sorry sons of bitches tell the depressingest
lies I ever heard.
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