Presentation on theme: "“Waiting for the Evening News”. 1947- Born and raised in Louisiana and until his recent retirement taught writing at Southeast Louisiana University for."— Presentation transcript:
“Waiting for the Evening News”
1947- Born and raised in Louisiana and until his recent retirement taught writing at Southeast Louisiana University for thirty years. His breakthrough came in 1990 when the Atlantic Monthly published 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, and The Clearing, winner of the 2003 Mid-South Independent Booksellers Association Award. The son of a tugboat captain, Gautreaux, has crafted an unforgettable fictional territory in gritty oil-patch towns, like his native Morgan City, and a turn-of-the century cypress mill, populated by the modern-day descendants of French-speaking Cajun exiles who settled southern Louisiana in the 18th century. Married and the father of grown children, he lives north of Lake Pontchartrain in Hammond, La. (Scanlan “Interview”).
“Grew out of me reading the newspaper one morning. There was a train derailment in Louisiana, and then there was a passenger derailment in Mexico where the engineer ran away. Exxon Valdez was going on at the time. So I put the events together and it all coalesced into this business of the ordinary man involved in an accident who runs off instead of staying around and fessing up so his troubles would be over in a few days.... It’s a big accident of fate because he had no control over what caused the accident. …[but] he can’t deny the fact of his notoriety.... He has literally been transmogrified by the media and now he has to deal with it.” (Joyal 58). Photo copyright Joel Siegfried.
On Sept. 28, 1982 a 101-car Illinois Central Gulf freight train carrying some dozen esoteric and highly dangerous chemicals derailed in Livingston, La. Though no one was injured, the ensuing explosion and chemical fires forced the evacuation of 2,800 residents for nearly two weeks. (Time article) The train included 35 tank cars filled with a variety of hazardous and poisonous chemicals. For several days after the derailment, a series of explosions occurred at the site. The train's engineer, Edward Peyton Robertson, who was accused of being drunk at the time, was later found guilty of recklessly handling hazardous cargo. He was sentenced to one year in prison. (Nelson/Hays).
(Val-deez). An oil tanker that gained notoriety after running aground in Prince William Sound spilling hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil in Alaska. On March 24, 1989, while owned by the former Exxon Shipping Company, and captained by Joseph Hazelwood bound for Long Beach, California, the vessel ran aground on the Bligh Reef resulting in the second largest oil spill in United States history. The size of the spill is estimated at 40,900 to 120,000 m3 (10,800,000 to 32,000,000 US gal), or 257,000 to 750,000 barrels. In 1989, Exxon Valdez oil spill was listed as the 54th largest spill in history. (see Wikipedia article).
His stories concern people who’ve messed up, usually because they’ve shirked on their obligations to the children they’ve borne, the spouses they’ve wed, as well as their own best selves…. But just as Original Sin isn’t the end of the human story, Gautreux’s stories don’t leave us hanging in a New Yorker state of nihilistic ennui. In Tim Gautreux’s world, every character lives and breathes in air as thick with hope as it is with humidity and swampy mildew” (Amy Wellborn Dubriel) Illustration by Clifford Harper: Agraphia.co.uk
As a personal act of rebellion, Jesse desires to “do something wild and woolly” to celebrate his fiftieth birthday (19). Hubris is extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power. (Wikipedia)
Grace is the idea of receiving automatic forgiveness for a sin, of being sinless. Has Jesse already lost his grace at the start of the story? Is his sin already too far along to stop, like the freight train barreling through the night? Or does he lose his grace because he refuses to take responsibility for his actions? “He watched the headlight brighten the rails”... Story begins with and ends with light-- Jesse bathed in the light of the police cars and the gaze of the onlookers.
“Jesse McNeil was running a locomotive while he was drunk, and he was doing a fine job of it, charging up the main line at fifty with the chemical train, rattling through the hot Louisiana night like a thunderstorm.” “He saw a white tanker turn sideways in the distance... Here he was in the dark woods at the edge of town, more than half-drunk, witnessing a catastrophe that would have happened even if he had been stone-sober and riding the rails with a Bible in his back pocket.” “He began to stumble backward through an unnameable fear, and when an old pickup pulled out of a side road and drove north toward him, he stuck out his thumb”. Img. Michal Boubin
“He now wondered whether the newspeople were right in exposing his drunkenness, whether he might have noticed something wrong with his train had he been completely sober.” “like a telegraph pole flying by his engine window for the thousandth time” “he felt a policeman’s moist hand on the top of his head, shoving him under the river of light and into the backseat of a cruiser, which at once moved onto the highway, bathed by strobes and headlights and stares, locked in inescapable beams.”
His protagonists are predominantly white, blue-collar, south Louisiana men, their ages ranging from the twenty-somethings of his novels to the numerous grandfathers in his stories. It is the Louisiana white working man's story that he tells — or rather, the various stories of blue-collar workers, a voice fairly new to southern literature, offered by other writers of his generation... countering or deconstructing poor white and "white trash" literary stereotypes (Bauer para 2). Rand Richards Cooper points out, Gautreaux’s characters are "harshly circumscribed by poverty, under-education, and alcohol" and whose "world in which work—when it can be found—alternates petty humiliations with spectacular mishaps" (24). Moreover, Gautreaux's Louisiana is "rough around the edges... a tough place, where it's hard to make a living" (Larson,"Writer Tim Gautreaux," D-1, qtd. in Piacentino 115)
At the start of the story Jesse feels insignificant: “The sense of being invisible made Jesse think he could not be taken seriously, which was why he never voted, hardly ever renewed his driver’s license, and paid attention in church only once a year at revival time.” “Each broadcast injured his notion of who he was.” His moment of hubris/separation from Grace, splits him in two.
At the time of Jesse’s capture when a policeman inquires if he is Jesse McNeil, Jesse feebly responds: “I feel like I’m two different people,” an indication not only of his personal identity crisis and the confusion in his mind associated with this but also of his apparent unwillingness to accept the monstrous specimen of humanity he has become. (Piacentino 119)
“Billy Graham could have been at the throttle of that locomotive and the same thing would have happened” Jesse: Name is Biblical. Father of Jesus’ line, means “Gift from God.” Father Lambrusco talks about Joseph/carpenter, Catholic debate Debate about Baptism “the minister said it might take some time in my case”.
When Jesse decides to have the priest turn him in, there’s “a white pigeon perched on a gatepost” ~ Grace/God symbol? Judas: “For some reason he thought of Judas and wondered if he realized as he climbed the limbs of the fig tree, the hanging rope slung over his shoulder, how many people would come to know about him down through the years, how many would grow to hate his name.” Noah: “I read in the Bible where Noah got drunk in his tent, yet he was the one they let run the ark”...”the Lord trusted him to save our bacon”.
In folk magic and mythology, crossroads may represent a location "between the worlds" and, as such, a site where supernatural spirits can be contacted and paranormal events can take place. Symbolically, it can mean a locality where two realms touch and therefore represents liminality, a place literally "neither here nor there", "betwixt and between". In popular Southern U.S. mythos, in order to acquire facility at various manual and body skills, such as playing a musical instrument, throwing dice, or dancing, one may attend upon a crossroads a certain number of times, either at midnight or just before dawn, and meet a "black man," whom some call the Devil, who will bestow upon one the desired skills. (Wikipedia)
“I write about Acadian culture or blue-collar families here in the south because it’s where I’m from. It’s just a fact that I was raised in a rough oil- patch town on the gulf, Morgan City. We had thirty-two bars and eighteen churches. That’s my territory as a writer.” (Joyal 51). In every interview, people ask him if he’s a Southern or Cajun writer. He writes stories deeply grounded in S. Louisiana, with Cajun in-jokes, i.e., “Los Head Suckers” as a band name– but he insists over and over again that it’s more about being grounded in “what you know” than deliberately setting out to create and preserve any particular culture. He is afraid that a writer who sets out to “be the voice” of a culture will end up writing the cliché.
New Orleans is called “Sodom of all Sodoms” “No one would look for him” there, Jesse thinks. There’s a vivid description of Jackson Square and the French Quarter.
Bauer, Margaret D. "An Interview with Tim Gautreaux: "Cartographer of Louisiana Back Roads.” Southern Spaces. 28 May Web. 20 Feb back-roads. back-roads "Crossroads (mythology)." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb Nelson, Keitha, and Robb Hays. "25th Anniversary of Livingston Parish Train." WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports. N.p., 28 Sept Web. 20 Feb Piacentino, Ed. “Second Chances: Patterns of Failure and Redemption in Tim Gautreaux's Same Place, Same Things.” The Southern Literary Journal 38.1 (2005) Scanlan, Christopher. "Creative Loafing Atlanta." Creative Loafing Atlanta. N.p., 17 June Web. 20 Feb "Highball Express." Time (1982): 38. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 Feb Wellborn Dubriel, Amy. "Tim Gautreaux: Grace in Ordinary Places." Tim Gautreaux. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb
Title Page: Train: Slide 1: Tim Gautreaux: Chapple, Christina. "SLU News-Fanfare Week Four." SLU News-Fanfare Week Four. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb Slide 3: Train wreck: "Fiery Columbus Ohio Train Derailment Causes Massive Evacuation." Examiner.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb Slide 4: "Anatomy of a Crisis: The Livingston Train Wreck." History and Vintage Films on DVD and CD Collections - The Historical Archive. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb Slide 5: Valdez picture: Effected wildlife: Captain Joseph Hazelwood: Slide 6: Illustration by Clifford Harper. Appears with article by Proulx, Annie. "Waiting for the Evening News: Stories of the Deep South by Tim Gautreaux."The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 19 Mar Web. 20 Feb evening-news-gautreaux.http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/mar/20/waiting-for- evening-news-gautreaux Slide 7: “Pride : Askipedia.com." Web. 21 Feb Slide 8: “Grace” "emergingchurch.info > stories > grace." emergingchurch.info : a touching place for the emerging church. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb Slide 9: Boubin, Michal. "Blown Out Candle Photograph by Michal Boubin - Blown Out Candle Fine Art Prints and Posters for Sale." Fine Art - Art Prints - Fine Art Prints - Greeting Cards - Posters - Originals - Buy Art Online - Sell Art Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb out-candle-michal-boubin.htmlhttp://fineartamerica.com/featured/blown- out-candle-michal-boubin.html Slide 10: "Delaware Authorities Investigating Possible Police Impersonator | WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio." WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb impersonator.html.http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2012/12/06/delaware-police-investigating-possible- impersonator.html Slide 11 : "Steam Engine." Corpus Christi Caller Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb engine/31971/.http://www.caller.com/photos/galleries/2010/apr/15/steam- engine/31971/ Slide 12 & 13: "The Stockton Postcolonial Studies Project | “Breaking the Tongue”: Postcolonial Reading." Web. 21 Feb https://blogs.stockton.edu/postcolonialstudies/body-in-the-context-of-postcolonial-studies/breaking-the-tongue-postcolonial-reading/. https://blogs.stockton.edu/postcolonialstudies/body-in-the-context-of-postcolonial-studies/breaking-the-tongue-postcolonial-reading/ Slide 14: "PolicyMic." PolicyMic. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb faith-but-data-does-not-tell-whole-story.http://www.policymic.com/articles/12140/atheism-statistics-show-young-people-losing- faith-but-data-does-not-tell-whole-story Slide 15: "The Holy Spirit â A Bible Study | Till We Have Faces." Till We Have Faces. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb Slide 16: Slide 17: Cajun Accordion & Food: Cinda Chavich Violin: Slide 18: "New Orleans, Louisiana: Jackson Square photo, picture, image." Articles & Discussions about Real estate, Relocation, Jobs, Moving, Entertainment, Politics, News, Schools, Transportation, Vacation, Restaurants. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb orleans-jackson-square-2.htmlhttp://www.cityprofile.com/louisiana/photos/15172-new- orleans-jackson-square-2.html
Presentation by Kim Wells, April Academic Fair Use, Use/Modify with attribution.