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The Flying Troutmans Paperback – International Edition, June 2, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0307397508 ISBN-10: 0307397505

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (June 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307397505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307397508
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,619,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Miriam Toews's new novel explores what it means to be a family in the wake of adversity. Described as "a genius at recording the everyday weirdness of young people" (Washington Post), Toews creates memorable, quirky characters whose dialogue ripples with sharp insight, deadpan irony, and pop culture references. A few critics had serious complaints about the screwball humor (contrived), the plot (predictable), and the characters (improbable and affected); the reviewer from the New York Times Book Review also pronounced Toews's slang-filled narrative "sloppy and gabbling, like a blog hastily banged out." Though The Flying Troutmans may not be her best book, its optimism and thoughtful treatment of family dysfunction will entertain readers who can overlook its imperfections.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

All in all the book is enjoyable, however in a light reading sense.
Brett Farrell
I found the book to be intelligently written and thought provoking and the story itself was a wonderful tale of love and optimism.
Ms. T
I have never NOT finished a book I have started to read, but "The Flying Troutmans" almost brought that situation to an end.
Bevan Lee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sasha Q. VINE VOICE on August 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For the most part, I found this novel to be engaging, if a little light on plot, and not to be taken too seriously. I applaud the book's attempt to deal with the issue of mental illness, and its effects on family members. I also commend the story's courage in dealing with the disease realistically, because, although we often hear of the miracles that the latest series of pharmaceuticals can bring to patients (in TV and magazine ads and the like), the truth is, that for every patient that finds relief with drug therapy, many more will not. And, so, unfortunately, mental illness is often a chronic and life long disease for many people.

That being said, the story itself, while having some touching and humorous moments, had a few problems with character development. The precocious 11 year old was just a little too precocious, and it took way, way too long for her adult aunt to finally give that child a bath!!!

My biggest disappointment with the book was its obvious similarity to the 2006 movie, "Little Miss Sunshine". We have the precocious, quirky, female child, the sulky teen boy, a van that breaks down, and an extended road trip. Ok, so the book doesn't include a drug-addicted, eventually dead grandfather with obvious psychological problems, but it does have a mother with mental illness who is ever present in the van, though not physically, because of the amount of time the characters discuss, think, and attempt to contact her via pay phones (so they don't believe in cell phones in Canada, eh?).

There is even a similarity in the endings involving the sulky male teen, which I won't go into in detail, so as not to spoil it for others. While I enjoyed some of the story, the portions of the novel that were original and fresh were few and far between. The writing was very good, the story flowed (except for the bath bit and the constant stopping at pay phones), but the book was too reminiscent of a road trip we already took at the movies in 2006.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Fitzgerald Fan VINE VOICE on August 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I will be honest, I read this book with nothing more to go on than the cover and the title, which I found intriguing. However, when I first began to read the book I felt a little disappointed. Right off the bat it seemed like a written version of The Royal Tenenbaums...really weird. Having finished the book, I can say it retained this weirdness throughout, but it ended up very endearing. While the names and situations seemed a little far-fetched, I really began to care about the characters. Best of all, there were some moments when I literally laughed out loud--quite a few of them in fact. What really made me like this book were the author's sardonic wit and wicked sense of humor...these things trump any other issues I might have originally had with the book. Another reviewer mentioned the similarity this book has with the film Little Miss Sunshine, and s/he was right. It is about a broken family traveling across North America looking for answers, and things just have this magical way of working themselves out, even with all the blunders and mishaps that befall them along the way.
I wouldn't call the book literary in any way, but it would make a nice beach/gym read. I got more than a few stares at my gym when I was laughing out loud to myself on the exercise bike while reading this novel...each time I felt like one of the weirdos I was reading about. That made me laugh all the more. Normalcy is overrated. When all was said and done, I found that I had really enjoyed the book, quirks and all.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Smith VINE VOICE on August 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Flying Troutman opened with what was for me a dubious, well-worn premise. Broken group of odd characters heads on improbable road trip and finds healing/redemption/understanding or whatever. In this particular incarnation the group is family - a recently dumped aunt who rides in from Paris to rescue her mad sister's children. Yeah, sure, lower your expectations.

However, the characters quickly catch your attention - the author's choice of details quickly build into full characters with a range of concerns and responses that makes what happens to them matter to the reader. My favorite - the remains of a candy necklace on Thebes clothes and body.

While the characters at first seem extreme, as their background unfolds their responses become believable, perhaps even "normal" for the circumstances. The road trip becomes the perfect vehicle for healing - the close proximity for hours at a time without facing each other. There is a distancing effect that permits confidences that would be more difficult in an intimate setting. As the trip progresses, one learns that the aunt riding to the rescue is inept herself, bearing the consequences of growing up with a mentally ill sister.

The misstep in the book, from my perspective, is the reliance towards the end of the book on meeting the right person at the right time to learn the right lesson ... the adoption of a dog works; meeting the second wife of the kids' father sort of works; the pot head ... give me a break.

Nonetheless, if you want a delightful, semi-light afternoon's read, I would recommend The Flying Troutmans as a decent choice.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By ephemeral on August 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The concept of The Flying Troutmans is simple: Hattie Troutman comes home to care for her niece and nephew when her sister is committed to a mental hospital. Hattie's solution to dealing with the situation and the emotional issues of the whole family is a spontaneous road trip in search of the children's father. This book isn't about the plot at all; it focuses completely on the three members of the Troutman family, their relationships with one another, and how they deal with a loved one's mental instability and their own emotional baggage. It's extraordinarily funny, depressing, and beautiful all at once. It also has a feeling of realism that many novels lack.

My only complaint was that dialogue wasn't indicated with the standard quotation marks. It was sometimes hard to follow who was speaking, what parts they were actually saying, and what parts were thoughts and not spoken words. Nevertheless, it doesn't greatly detract from the ease of reading this book. Anyone interested in a realistic and beautifully written story about families dynamics should try The Flying Troutmans.
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