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The Flying Troutmans: A Novel Paperback – September 15, 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 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
This is a terrific book. Toews has a very unique writing style, and I became completely engrossed with the story from the very first page. All of the characters are dynamic and endearing, and I felt very invested in their outcome. I enjoyed "The Flying Troutmans" very much and highly recommend it.
The author thoroughly developed each character to the point where I could see 10 year old Thebes purple matted hair and irritating mannerisms and hear her colorful language and smell her body odor. I felt annoyed along with her 15 year old brother Logan as she taunted and aggravated him. I could feel Logan's anger and understand his frustrations and his need to be alone from time to time dealing with his determination to tolerate and protect his sister and cope with his unstable broken family situation. I could visualize Hattie's airhead ex-lover, Marc, in Paris and Hattie's determination to look out for the best interest of her niece and nephew without abandoning her needy self-centered manic depressive and psychotic sister.
In spite of the fact that Min tried to drown Hattie as a small child, a scene that resulted in their father's death attempting to save them, Hattie loved Min and thoughout her life waited patiently for the depressive stormy side of Min to subside and the gentle loving side to resurface.
Much of the setting in this book took place in various parts of the country as Hattie travels from Canada across America with Logan and Thebes in a clunker van and keeps the reader on edge encountering dangerous situations and surprises on the road trip while searching for Cherkis.
Although this book has a painful side to it and some of the characters use profane language, drugs and alcohol to excess, this is a book that will undoubtedly become a best seller. The symbolism and imagery is noteworthy and the author's skillful storytelling abilities will keep you on edge and sometimes make you laugh out loud. You will think about this book long after you put it down. I think it is best suited for mature readers.
I am glad I had the opportunity to read this book and look forward to reading Miriam Toews other novels.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Summary: Hattie in Paris, who has just been dumped by her boyfriend, receives an urgent message...Read more