Rita's Reviews > The Flying Troutmans

The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
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's review
Dec 11, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: loved
Read in December, 2008

This is my favorite book. For all this time, whenever I’ve been asked that question, I’ve said, “Oh, there are so many that I love, it’s impossible to pin down just one and call it my favorite.”

Now, it’s possible.

The characters, the storyline, the writing, the dialog all comes together so that every word is necessary and there aren’t any to spare. It is just perfect.

Hattie is on a road trip with her 15 year-old nephew, Logan and 11 year-old niece, Thebes. The kids’ mother, Min, is mentally ill and admitted into a psychiatric hospital again. Hattie is called back to help out. She feels inadequate with these kids and with her quest and with herself every step of the way. It was a lot like a Hornby book in that I could relate to none of the characters in particular, but could take pieces from each of them and see some part of me reflected. From the 15 year-old boy, to Hattie, to her sister, to the judgmental strangers who stared at them when they stopped. Because while I fell in love with these little freaks, I did have to pause and wonder how I would really react to these people if I met them at a restaurant or gas station.

It’s funny and deep and insightful. If you liked Little Miss Sunshine at all (and really, who didn’t), then you’d like this.

Here are some of my favorite tidbits:

“Admittedly, I would have preferred to keep roaming around Paris pretending to be an artist with my moody, adjective-hating boyfriend, Marc, but he was heading off to an ashram in India anyway and said we could communicate telepathically. I tried it a couple of days before he left. I love you, don’t go, I said silently, without moving my lips. He was standing next to me, trying to photograph a gargoyle. You’re a little in my way, he said. Can you move? No amount of telepathy worked with him, but maybe you have to be thousands of miles away from someone in order for your thoughts to work up the speed and velocity required to hit their target.”

“Logan Troutman, [Thebes] said. You’ve experienced a lot of failure in the past. What makes you think this venture will be a success?

Logan: I have a very positive mental attitude. Plus, it helps that I really don’t care.”

“Word, said Colt. I’m down. I wish I lived on Moralia. Thebes had found a soulmate in this homicidal cosmonaut. Impeccably, somberly united in their mutual, impossible longing to live in places that weren’t real, they high-fived and punched and slapped and then gazed for a while out the window at the real world, the one they’d had it with.”

“Hey, isn’t the Grand Canyon around here somewhere? She said.

Hey, another chunk of the world missing from our lives. Another giant hole in the surface of our universe. Let’s find it!

The whole book is full of treasures just like that. All lined up one after another. The copy I just finished is on loan from the library. I’m going to hold onto it until I can buy my own. I want to have it around here, if only so I can every once in a while read this:

“Min was in the universe. She was a dim and falling star, but she was alive. She hadn’t loved watching the sun’s eclipse as much as she’d loved watching it reappear. If she had really, truly wanted to die, she’d have succeeded a long time ago. She loved the brink, going to it and returning from it. Or maybe she didn’t love it. Maybe she hated it. But, it didn’t really matter. Maybe going to the brink made her feel like she’d accomplished something extraordinary, like there was a purpose to her life, if only to prolong it in spite of herself. She was the captain of both teams, waging war against herself but always pulling back from any decisive victory because that would also mean a decisive loss.”

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02/06 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Spike (new) - added it

Spike Nice review Rita. I added this one to the 'to-be-read' list.


message 2: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn I like the book but I definitely don't love it. My favorite book this past few months is by Rose Tremain: The Road Home. I also liked Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster.

message 3: by Melody (new)

Melody Enjoyed the review

Abby I like the quotes you pulled from the book to include in your review. Toews always has insightful and often humourous lines in her books. Nice review.

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