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Welding with Children: Stories by Tim…

Welding with Children: Stories

by Tim Gautreaux (Author)

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This set of short stories has some recent buzz on LT so I thought I'd sample it. The first and title story made me feel uneasy. We are all imperfect parents after all. But the second story made me fall entirely in love with Gautreaux. He is just a downright nice person, and though some of the next story lines are intimidating, I feel safe in his hands. Memorable! ( )
  2wonderY | Jan 17, 2015 |
I received a copy of this book from my LTSanta, Ridgewaygirl, who knew that I like short story collections, and I quite enjoyed it. The eleven stories here are set primarily in the deep South (Louisiana, to be specific), with a few exceptions. Gautreaux develops a wonderful sense of local color and community. Most of the characters are poor, uneducated, and flawed, struggling along against the tide. There's the grandfather babysitting his four daughters' four illegitimate children (two of whom have the fabulous names of Tammynette and Moonbean--not a misspelling); the elderly widow who tries to talk a burglar out of robbing and/or killing her while plying him with food; the priest who gets into more than one scrape for being unable to say no; the one-time heiress, aging and lonely, who befriends her piano tuner and ends up playing in a hotel lounge; and many many more. Gautreaux is a fine writer indeed, and I will undoubtedly seek out more of his work. (As a side note, I'm now reading Burning Bright a collection by Ron Rash, which rather pales in comparison.) ( )
  Cariola | Jan 2, 2015 |
While not the twisted, sadistic tale of tortured youth that the title might suggest, Welding With Children is, hands down, one of the best short story collections around. Though the eleven stories are set in Louisiana and the American West—these familiar characters could live among us in cities and towns everywhere. Gautreaux creates people who aren't searching for material goods. They're looking for some sort of purpose and real emotion that their everyday lives lack. As in life, only sometimes do his characters know exactly what they are searching for. Sadness and hope are brilliantly mixed together in each story, and there is such originality contained in this collection that it's a definite reread. One armed hitchhikers, kidnapped Alzheimer's victims, a prison convict sitting in a bullring—colorful characters abound, and they're waiting for your eyes to find them in Welding With Children.

(5/01) ( )
1 vote jphamilton | Jul 27, 2014 |
Years ago, I read the title story and it stuck clearly enough in my mind that when I ran across a copy of the book, I wanted to read it. Considering that I have forgotten entire novels, this is notable. The story remained much as I had remembered it; the first person recounting of a day spent caring for his daughters' children, and the realization that he is not free from blame in his daughters' life choices. Set in a small town in Mississippi, there's both a strong atmosphere of people not quite getting by, of cars rusting in side yards next to decaying porches, and an undercurrent of hope.

That sense of resilience is, along with rural Mississippi, the common themes of this excellent and diverse selection of stories. Gautreaux takes set-ups that with Daniel Woodrell or Donald Ray Pollock would end in a blood bath and steers them in unexpected directions. In one story, a desperate criminal's home invasion is written with an off-beat humor, as he is thwarted by the elderly woman he finds in the house, and as her neighbors notice something is wrong. In another, an old man, disoriented in the Wal-Mart parking lot, is kidnapped by a carelessly cruel opportunist. This is the harshest of the stories, but there is a bright note in the man's desperate attempts to remember his past. Other stories deal with the remnant of a leading family, living in her decaying house and relying on the piano tuner for company, a priest whose drinking problem and inability to say no lead him into illegal acts and middle-aged man attending a writing workshop finds that he may be the only attendee with a desire to improve his writing.

I'll be looking for more by Tim Gautreaux. He's a fine writer with a strong sense of place. ( )
3 vote RidgewayGirl | Nov 17, 2013 |
Amazing writer, again, I wanted each story to continue on into a full-scale novel, just kept me wanting more. One of my definite "re-reads". ( )
  wbwilburn5 | Jun 13, 2012 |
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Book description
Contains the stories:

Welding with Children

Misuse of Light

Good for the Soul (Father Ledet)

Easy Pickings (Doris Landreneaux!!!) (Grand Crapaud and Deputy Sid)
The Piano Tuner

The Pine Oil Writer’s Conference


Sorry Blood

Sunset in Heaven

Rodeo Parole

Dancing with the One-Armed Gal
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312267924, Paperback)

In Tim Gautreaux's pitch-perfect portraits of rural Louisiana life, there is no force stronger than a good Cajun-style chicken stew--except, perhaps, the vagaries of old age. Welding with Children has more than its fair share of the latter, beginning with the funny and moving title story, in which a grandfather drives around the four offspring of his four single daughters using what neighbors unkindly call "the bastardmobile." Raised on a steady diet of Icees and daytime talk TV, Bruton's grandkids finally inspire a housecleaning of truly spiritual dimensions, proving the adage that "everything worth doing hurts like hell." Other stories follow a hard-drinking priest sent on a strange errand of automotive atonement, a manic-depressive Creole princess playing cocktail piano in a motel lounge, and a one-armed feminist hitchhiker on a quest for academic tenure:
When a search committee member told me they'd received an application from a gay black female double amputee from Ghana, I reminded the committee that part of my childhood was spent in Mexico, and then I played my last card and came out as a lesbian.... But it did no good. The college found someone more specialized, foreign, and incomplete than I could ever be.
Fair enough. But while most of these tales rely on a certain tried-and-true Southern eccentricity to work their magic, two stories point to what Gautreaux can do when he seeks to do more than just charm. In "Sorry Blood," another old man loses his way--mentally and physically--in a Wal-Mart parking lot. An opportunistic con man poses as his son, then puts the kidnapped "Ted Williams" to work digging a ditch in the sun. Scary, yes, but not as scary as the old man's struggle to hold on to his memory: "This is an egg. What am I?" In the brief and powerful "Rodeo Parole," four inmates play a dangerous waiting game with an enraged bull, spurred on by the knowledge that a rodeo victory means scoring points with the parole board. The bull, after all, is no more or less than their fates, "like a judge saying something and you can't stop it or change it." Gracefully written and spiced with vivid regional detail, these are tales by a master storyteller who's not afraid to blend some darkness into his fictional roux. --Mary Park

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:11 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A collection of stories by a Louisiana writer. In Dancing with the One-Armed Gal, a factory worker dismissed from his job gives a lift to an academic dismissed from hers, Good for the Soul is on an alcoholic priest, while in the title story a man babysits the illegitimate children of his daughters.… (more)

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