The Clearing

The Clearing

Book - 2004
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In his critically acclaimed new novel, Tim Gautreaux fashions a classic and unforgettable tale of two brothers struggling in a hostile world.
In a lumber camp in the Louisiana cypress forest, a world of mud and stifling heat where men labor under back-breaking conditions, the Aldridge brothers try to repair a broken bond. Randolph Aldridge is the mill's manager, sent by his father--the mill owner--to reform both the damaged mill and his damaged older brother. Byron Aldridge is the mill's lawman, a shell-shocked World War I veteran given to stunned silences and sudden explosions of violence that make him a mystery to Randolph and a danger to himself. Deep in the swamp, in this place of water moccasins, whiskey, and wild card games, these brothers become embroiled in a lethal feud with a powerful gangster. In a tale full of raw emotion as supple as a saw blade, The Clearing is a mesmerizing journey into the trials that define men's souls.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 2004.
Edition: 1st Vintage Contemporaries ed.
ISBN: 9781400030538
Characteristics: 305 p. ; 21 cm.


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Nov 27, 2017

The setting: The early 1920's; a waterlogged, steamy, snake-infested lumber mill in the center of old-growth cypress forest in Louisiana. Less than 100 miles from New Orleans by way of a sagging spur-line railway, but it but might as well be on another continent. A place so economically and socially isolated from the rest of North American civilization that lawlessness, brutality and drunkenness completely overwhelm everyone living there.
The Players: A severely PTSD stricken veteran of WW1; the earnest, Pittsburgh raised younger brother sent to operate the mill and rescue him from his tortured dissolution; the hardy women who have followed such men into the forest; the gamblers, whores, pimps and bootleggers who feed on the men who toil in this hellish environment.
Add to all this the overhanging menace of a criminal organization that operates according to its own vindictive code, where there are no limits to the depraved tactics they may employ to gain ascendancy or exact vengeance when their power is challenged.
All of that together, presented in strong, nearly cinematic language adds up to a great book.

Sep 21, 2014

Beautifully written. The author places you right into the setting and balances this with insight into the emotions of the characters. I like the masculine feel of the story combined with the emotional sensibility of a more feminine novel... if that makes sense. This is a book that flows so smoothly I consciously slowed down my reading at toward the end to try to make it last longer.

Mar 17, 2014

SPL needs e-book or large print of this book.

Jan 23, 2014

A remarkable novel that manages to combine beautiful writing, compelling atmosphere, and a plot that could hold its own with any thriller. We are pulled into a world where life, especially black life, is cheap, where wounds from the Civil War sting as much as those of the just-concluded First World War, and where casual cruelty and an odd nobility fight for the upper hand. My first novel by Tim Gautreaux and I will definitely read others.


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