The Flying Troutmans

by Miriam Toews | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9780307397492 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingPooker3wing of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on 7/9/2008
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingPooker3wing from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Sometimes you just luck out! I've read all three of Miriam Toews' previous novels and loved them, so if there was one book coming out in the near future I'd be dying to read, this'd be it. And it showed up in today's mail! Thank you Tracey, Random House and BookLounge.ca. Mwaa!

Journal Entry 2 by wingPooker3wing from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Tuesday, July 15, 2008
When I was about 12 years old my father took me along Christmas shopping for my mother. He wanted me to help him select stuff, as well as try on for size. My mother always insists that she doesn't want or need anything, but at that time, there being four children younger than me and not enough money to go around, my mother never bought herself anything. My dad wanted to buy her a new winter coat and she desperately needed one. So we trailed around from store to store until we had seen and I had tried on every coat in the city. Finally we selected what I thought was the best coat in the world.

On Christmas morning, after their children's orgy of ripping and tearing, my mom and dad sat down with their coffee to open their gifts to each other. We children are expected to sit quietly and watch, although normally we are preoccupied with our own booty and pay little attention. This time though I was anxious for my mother to open the coat. I sure hoped she liked it. My parents open their gifts agonizingly slowly, taking the time to peel the tape off the paper without ripping it so it can be used again. I was on pins and needles waiting for my mom to get to the "big gift". When she did finally turn back the tissue paper to reveal the coat, I was surprised to see her start to cry. Oh no, she doesn't like it, I thought. But then I realized they were an entirely different sort of tears and when I looked at my dad, I saw his eyes were all shiny too. And I sat there enveloped in my parents' love for each other and I thought that it was the happiest day of my life.

This book is like that. It is a gift. It is a gift of love.

I expected to enjoy this book. I've loved Toews' previous three novels. I knew that I would love and devour this book from its first chapters. Toews' characters are disarmingly, haplessly, crazily charming and funny and utterly human. You cannot help but root for them, want the best for them. Perhaps in Toews' work more than any other's I get the sense that she *is* her characters. So, for me she is Hattie (as she was Nomi).

Although I expect that Toews would assure us that this is a work of fiction, I know that she draws a lot from her own personal experience, as she did in *A Complicated Kindness*. I saw Nomi's conflict as Toews' own growing up in a strict religious community.

I happened to have come across Toews' letters to Mike (her 13 year-old son's absent father) in the Open Letters magazine "published" back in 2000.

here's one

They brought tears to my eyes. I thought Mike would be the biggest fool in the world if he saw those and didn't write back. But what struck me most was Toews' motherly love for her child, marveling at how wonderful and vulnerable this person is, wanting what's best for him, wanting to protect him, wanting to make up for all the things that he lacked - a father in particular. Rationally we know, as mothers that we can't ensure everything we want for our children, but irrationally we feel guilty when we can't.

Here Toews talks about the loss of her father by suicide and her decision to study psychology. Rationally, Toews knows she is not responsible for her father's death but irrationally she feels guilty anyway.

In The Flying Troutmans Toews absolves herself and us of that guilt. It is through Hattie, who is not Thebes and Logan's mother or Min's child and therefore who perhaps has the tiniest bit more objectivity, that we discover how much is enough.

I said this book was a gift. Certainly, it is a gift to us as readers and I suspect it was also a gift from the author to herself. But more than that, I see it as a gift to Toews' children. I wondered if Toews had ever shown her son her "Open letters" or if he might accidentally have come across them and what he thought of them. Surely he and Georgia cannot read this book without knowing how much they are loved. I, like my 12 year-old self, feel enveloped by it.


Journal Entry 3 by wingPooker3wing at Denver, Colorado USA on Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Released 11 yrs ago (8/6/2008 UTC) at Denver, Colorado USA

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handing off to puffintart. Enjoy!

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