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The Flying Troutmans: 10/17/17
The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews is a perfect example of when audiobooks work best for me. In text form, the narrative is written without grammatical markers for the dialog. Everything is run together with just a comma, and a he said or I asked, etc. The choice to leave out quotation marks leaves me with a single run-on sentence type monotone for my inner voice when I'm reading. It's very distracting and often results in a headache for me.
As The Flying Troutmans is a Canadian road trip and thus qualifies for the Canadian books challenge and is relevant to my ongoing road narrative project, I was motivated to finish this book. Rather than struggle through the print version, I bought the audio version, read by Erin Moon. Moon was able to bring the characters to life in a way my inner voice could not. That she was able to also differentiate between the Troutmans' Manitoban accents and the similar American upper midwest accents made it all the better.
Hattie Troutman has come home from Paris, recently dumped by her boyfriend, to care for her niece and nephew — Thebes and Logan. With their mother, Min, in hospital again for her depression, the children are on their own. Logan has been expelled from school and Thebes has stopped caring for self. Hattie, realizing that her sister might not get well any time soon, decides to take the children into the United States to track down their father, last seen in Moab, New Mexico.
With Hattie taking her niece and nephew across the continent in search of their lost father, it's easy to fall into mindset of Volkswagen Blues by Jacques Poulin.
The vehicle here, isn't a fixed up, but still rusting Volkswagen bus. Instead is's a minivan in ill repair that seems hellbent on breaking or losing something at every stop. It starts with one of the windshield wiper blades flying off and goes down hill from there.
Also like Poulin's book, the road trip doesn't end at the first stop. Just as Jack and Le Grande Sauterelle were redirected to San Francisco, the Troutmans are redirected to Twenty-Nine Palms. The ending, though, for them is happier.
Mixed into the present day cross country hunt for the estranged father, are flashbacks to previous episodes with Min. They provide insight into Hattie's current state of mind and her conflicted feelings about this drive with her niece and nephew and her sister's request that she be allowed to die.