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Conversations with Tim Gautreaux

Conversations with Tim Gautreaux

Edited by L. Lamar Nisly
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 224
  • Book Info
    Conversations with Tim Gautreaux
    Book Description:

    Louisiana writer Tim Gautreaux (b. 1947) writes fiction that mixes equal parts dry humor, tall tales, and deep tragedy. His stories and novels of working-class Acadiana portray lives of inimitably poignant love, loss, and longing. The depth and complexity of Gautreaux's writing invite scholarly appraisals as well, as critics mine the richness of his moral vision. These interviews reveal the intensity of his sense of place, his deep connection to the mechanical and working world, his commitment to the craft of writing, and his Catholic view that has been shaped by Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy.

    Conversations with Tim Gautreauxcollects interviews from 1993 to 2009 with the author ofThe Missing, The Clearing, Welding with Children, and many other vital works of fiction. Readers who have been engaged with the themes in his stories and novels will find themselves equally taken with the kind and thoughtful voice they discover in interviews.

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-619-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xx)

    In what is apparently Tim Gautreaux’s first published interview, he tells his former student, Sheila Stroup, a humorous anecdote—that does not appear in his other interviews—about his becoming an English major. A student at Nicholls State University, in Thibodaux, Louisiana, he had planned to major in business, but then his five accounting books were stolen. “I went to see my adviser and told him to put me in something where nobody would steal my books,” Gautreaux says. “He put me in English.” It is a wonderful early story about his entry into the world of literature and, at...

  4. Chronology
    (pp. xxi-2)
  5. He’s Got the Write Stuff
    (pp. 3-4)
    Sheila Stroup

    It felt strange to be sitting in Tim Gautreaux’s office, taking notes in a reporter’s notebook instead of a three-subject one. He’s moved up in the world since he was my writing professor.

    For one thing, he has a window in his office now. A room with a view isn’t easy to come by in the Southeastern Louisiana University English department.

    For another, his story “Same Place, Same Things” (originally published in theAtlantic) was included inThe Best American Short Stories, 1992. In the world of the short fiction writer, that’s about the highest honor there is.

    “After being...

  6. Pelican Briefs
    (pp. 5-7)
    Susan Larson

    When Tim Gautreaux writes his critically acclaimed short stories about Louisiana, recently published in the collection,Same Place, Same Things, he’s not writing about the land of dreamy dreams. His Louisiana is a tough place, where it’s hard to make a living. It’s a place where the land is swamp or scorched fields, where small towns have fallen on hard times, where heavy machinery, all too often broken, litters the landscape, and the water comes right up to the road. The names of his characters—Robicheaux and Thibodeaux and Bergeron—and his towns—Gumwood and Pine Oil and Grand Crapaud...

  7. A Conversation with Tim Gautreaux
    (pp. 8-12)
    Katie Bolick, David Watta and Tim Gautreaux

    In a world characterized by increased transience, Tim Gautreaux is a writer with a strong sense of place. His accurate prose, both visual—“a yellow butterfly playing in a clump of pigweed”—and vernacular—“Whoo. Grendaddy can bust a move”—is culled from a lifetime spent keenly observing the South, beyond the anesthesia of cultural homogeneity.

    “Welding with Children” (March, 1997,Atlantic), is Gautreaux’s thirdAtlanticstory. His fiction has appeared in, among other journals,Harper’s,GQ, andStory, and been selected for publication inNew Stories from the SouthandBest American Short Stories. The recipient of a National...

  8. Best American Short Stories 1997
    (pp. 13-16)
    Elizabeth Arnold

    Robert Siegel, host: This isAll Things Considered. I’m Robert Siegel.

    Elizabeth Arnold, host: And I’m Elizabeth Arnold.

    A consistent top seller during the holiday season is theBest American Short Stories. Every year since 1915, it’s provided a roundup of the best short fiction to have appeared in print the previous twelve months.

    About a hundred stories make the first cut, then they are passed on to a guest editor. This year it was writer E. Annie Proulx. Among the twenty-one stories she chose for the 1997 anthology is “Little Frogs in a Ditch” by Tim Gautreaux.

    Gautreaux has...

  9. Novel Approach: Tim Gautreaux Takes “The Next Step”
    (pp. 17-21)
    Christina Masciere

    Hot off the success of hisSame Place, Same Thingscollection of short stories, Morgan City native Tim Gautreaux debuts his first novel this month.The Next Step in the Dance(Picador) explores the rich and timeless Cajun culture of South Louisiana in a seriocomic tale that explores marriage, family, and sense of place.

    A recent Southern Writer-in-Residence at Ole Miss, Gautreaux has won a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and the National Magazine Award. His lyrical short stories have appeared in magazines includingAtlantic Monthly,Harper’s, andGQas well as in the recent anthologiesNew Stories from...

  10. The Writer Next Door
    (pp. 22-24)
    Susan Larson

    When Hammond writer Tim Gautreaux set out to write a novel following his critically acclaimed, Louisiana-set story collection,Same Place, Same Things, he knew what his subject would be—the oil bust of the ’80s. “It was a tremendously interesting time. So many people had to pull up stakes and move out of Louisiana. So many people suffered and stepped down several levels in their employment and in the amount of money they were making. It was really a time of great trauma for this state and certainly deserved a literary piece to memorialize it.”

    That newly published novel is...

  11. An Interview with Tim Gautreaux
    (pp. 25-34)
    Christopher Joyal and Tim Gautreaux

    Tim Gautreaux was born and raised in Morgan City, Louisiana, a blue-collar, Gulf Coast city tied to Acadian culture. He lives in Hammond, Louisiana, with his wife, Winborne, where he is Writer in Residence at Southeastern Louisiana University. Gautreaux stories have appeared inHarper’s, theAtlantic Monthly,GQ, andStory, winning a National Magazine Award for fiction and an NEA Creative Fellowship. He also has had stories appear inNew Stories from the SouthandBest American Short Stories.Gautreaux’s first book, a collection of stories titledSame Place, Same Things, chronicles the lives of blue collar workers placed in...

  12. Interview with Tim Gautreaux
    (pp. 35-52)
    Jennifer Levasseur, Kevin Rabalais and Tim Gautreaux

    Tim Gautreaux, author of a collection of stories,Same Place, Same Things, and a novel,The Next Step in the Dance, was born in Morgan City, Louisiana. He studied English at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and received his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina, where he studied under George Garrett and James Dickey. Gautreaux is writer-in-residence at Southeastern Louisiana University. His short stories have appeared in theAtlantic Monthly,GQ,Harper’s,Story,The Best American Short Stories 1997and1998, andNew Stories from the South. He is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment...

  13. A Postmodern Southern Moralist and Storyteller: Tim Gautreaux
    (pp. 53-68)
    Julie Kane

    Timothy Martin Gautreaux, who publishes as “Tim Gautreaux,” was born on 19 October 1947 in Morgan City, Louisiana. His fictional portrayals of working class characters from southern Louisiana—particularly those of the distinctive “Cajun” ethnic community, descendants of Acadian French settlers who were expelled from British Nova Scotia in the eighteenth century—have earned him acclaim as one of the best contemporary American fiction writers.

    After graduating from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, Gautreaux went on to study for a Ph.D. in Romantic Literature from the University of South Carolina, where he took poetry writing courses from James Dickey....

  14. Tim Gautreaux
    (pp. 69-72)
    Pam Kingsbury

    Tim Gautreaux’s first novel,The Next Step in the Dance, won the 1999 Southeastern Booksellers Award. Born and reared in Louisiana, the author recently retired from his position as Writer-in-Residence at Southeastern Louisiana University and has spent the last few months researching his next novel. His work has been selected for inclusion in theO. HenryandBest American Short Story Annualsand has appeared inZoetrope,GQ,Harper’s, and theAtlantic Monthly.

    Kingsbury: You’re from Louisiana . . . .

    Gautreaux: I was born in 1947 in Morgan City, a tough oil-patch town in South-Central Louisiana. My father was...

  15. Tim Gautreaux: Author of The Clearing Talks with Robert Birnbaum
    (pp. 73-86)
    Robert Birnbaum and Tim Gautreaux

    Tim Gautreaux was born and raised in Louisiana and until his recent retirement taught writing at Southeast Louisiana University for thirty years. He has published two story collections,Same Place, Same ThingsandWelding with Children, as well as two novels,The Next Step in the Danceand recentlyThe Clearing. His stories have appeared inHarper’s, theAtlantic, andZoetropeas well as a number of anthologies. Tim Gautreaux lives outside of Hammond, Louisiana, with his family and, given his Catholicism, is assuredly at work on something.

    The Clearingtakes place in post–Great-War backwater Louisiana with two brothers...

  16. Tim Gautreaux: A Conversation with Darlene Meyering
    (pp. 87-106)
    Darlene Meyering and Tim Gautreaux

    DM: Good afternoon and welcome to this time of interview with Tim Gautreaux. My name is Darlene Meyering, and I serve as executive associate to the president of Calvin College. I’ve always been an avid reader, a lover of words and books, bookstores and book discussions, and have been in a couples’ book club with my husband for over fourteen years. So today we will converse as reader to writer with Tim Gautreaux, and hopefully will have time for your questions as well. Tim Gautreaux was born and raised in Louisiana and until his retirement served for thirty years as...

  17. Tim Gautreaux
    (pp. 107-109)
    Christopher Scanlan

    In his first ten years of writing fiction, Tim Gautreaux collected enough rejection slips to paper the four walls, ceiling, and filing cabinets in his office at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he taught creative writing for thirty years. His breakthrough came in 1990 when theAtlantic Monthlypublished one of his stories. He’s since published two collections, and the novels,The Next Step in the Dance, which won the 1999 Southeastern Booksellers Association Award, andThe Clearing, winner of the 2003 Mid-South Independent Booksellers Association Award. The son of a tugboat captain, Gautreaux, fifty-six, has crafted an unforgettable fictional territory...

  18. An Interview with Tim Gautreaux
    (pp. 110-119)
    Maria Hebert-Leiter and Tim Gautreaux

    Tim Gautreaux is the author of the short story collectionsSame Place, Same Things(1996) andWelding with Children(1999), and of the novelsThe Next Step in the Dance(1998) andThe Clearing(2003). Born and raised in Morgan City, Louisiana, he grew up among blue-collar Cajuns. From this past experience, Gautreaux creates a fictional world that relates the everyday lives and cultural ways of south Louisiana Cajuns. In 1972, he received his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, where he wrote his creative dissertation under the direction of James Dickey. He taught at Southeastern Louisiana University...

  19. A Catholic Who Happens to Write: An Interview with Tim Gautreaux
    (pp. 120-127)
    L. Lamar Nisly and Tim Gautreaux

    Although Tim Gautreaux has made his mark as a fiction writer, he began his writing career as a poet, writing a volume of poetry for his dissertation at the University of South Carolina. He began teaching creative writing at Southeastern Louisiana University in 1972 and was later named writer in residence, positions he held until his early retirement in 2002. Instrumental for Gautreaux’s career was a 1977 writing seminar, taught by Walker Percy, which led Gautreaux to turn to fiction writing. Two novels that Gautreaux wrote in the 1980s were not published, but he began to receive notice for his...

  20. An Interview with Tim Gautreaux: “Cartographer of Louisiana Back Roads”
    (pp. 128-151)
    Margaret D. Bauer and Tim Gautreaux

    In his 1983 book,The People Called Cajuns, James Dorman observes that Cajuns “rarely speak for themselves” in the various sources that refer to them—historical, biographical, or literary—but that same year Louisiana’s Tim Gautreaux published his first short story, “A Sacrifice of Doves,” in theKansas Quarterly.¹ In the more than quarter-century since, he has published two short story collections and three novels, most recentlyThe Missing(Knopf, 2009). Gautreaux’s name reveals his ethnicity, and in his fiction readers find his Cajun perspective. He is a descendent of the French Acadians who settled in south Louisiana after the...

  21. A Conversation with Tim Gautreaux
    (pp. 152-163)
    Dayne Sherman

    Tim Gautreaux was born in Morgan City, Louisiana, in 1947. He attended Nicholls State University and the University of South Carolina, where he earned a Ph.D. in English literature. In 1972 he began teaching creative writing at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he directed the creative writing program until his retirement in 2003. His books include the story collectionsSame Place, Same Things(St. Martins) and theNew York TimesnotableWelding with Children(Picador) as well as the novelsThe Next Step in the Dance(Picador),The Clearing, andThe Missing(both from Knopf).The Clearingmade several top-ten lists,...

  22. Tim Gautreaux’s The Missing
    (pp. 164-182)
    Tom Ashbrook

    Ashbrook: From WBUR Boston and NPR, I’m Tom Ashbrook and this isOn Point. Louisiana writer Tim Gautreaux is son of a tugboat captain, grandson of a riverboat captain, and author of a new novel set on the Mississippi that follows the steamboat not in Mark Twain’s day but in the rough and tumble, down and dirty age of the 1920s. World War I is the backdrop, a kidnapping in New Orleans is the plot starter, and the themes are wide and deep as the river. Loss, reparation, the pull of vengeance, jazz is new, human nature is old, and...

  23. Index
    (pp. 183-187)