Tim Gautreaux's 'The Missing'
Tim Gautreaux

Tim Gautreaux

Louisiana writer Tim Gautreaux is the 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 the river rolls.

This hour, On Point: A different life on the Misissippi, and Tim Gautreaux’s “The Missing.”

You can join the conversation. Have you read Gautreaux? Do you know this river? These woods? The urge for vengeance?


Joining us from Hammond, Lousiana is Tim Gautreaux, novelist, short-story writer, and longtime teacher of creative writing. He’s a Louisiana native, and he’s now a writer in residence and professor emeritus at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. His fiction has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, and GQ, as well as the O. Henry and Best American Short Story collections. His third novel, “The Missing,” is just out.

Read an excerpt from “The Missing.”

More links:

There’s a good profile of Tim Gautreaux in the Times-Picayune of New Orleans. His new novel has been reviewed in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.

For a sense of the steamboat era’s music pre-1930, Tim Gautreaux recommends Red Hot Jazz Archive. A music buff, he particularly likes the music of Fate Marable.

The music played before the breaks in today’s show, in order, is: Jelly-Roll Morton’s “Steamboat Stomp”; Fate Marable’s “Frankie and Johnny”; and King Oliver’s “New Orleans Shout.”

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