Retired university professor honored

Prakriti Adhikari

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Timothy Gautreaux. Courtesy of Timothy Gautreaux

Professor Emeritus of English and Writer-in-Residence Dr. Timothy Gautreaux’s “Signals: New and Selected Stories” was chosen by Wall Street Journal’s best books of 2017 list.

“Signals: New and Selected Stories” is a collection of short stories, which are set in Louisiana. According to Gautreaux, the tales are about working-class people and how they deal with their problems. The book was published on Jan. 17, 2017.

Gautreaux, who started writing as a child in the 1950s, feels honored by the achievement he made.

“The Wall Street Journal has always been very positive about my writing, and naturally, I was honored when they chose ‘Signals: New and Selected Stories’ for their best books of 2017 list,” said Gautreaux.

Gautreaux started teaching creative writing and literature at the university in 1972 and retired from full-time teaching in 2003. He has currently moved to the position of writer-in-residence, the position awarded to a poet or a fiction writer, who has achieved distinction in his or her career, in order to mentor undergraduate and graduate writers enrolled in the creative writing concentration.

Gautreaux, who enjoyed writing stories and sending them to pen pals in California and Canada in his childhood, believes the achievement is important to have good publicity for the book.

“The publicity will be good for book sales, of course, but making such a list suggests that I haven’t lost my touch as a writer,” said Gautreaux. “I would point out that ‘Signals’ was also on National Public Radio’s list of best books for 2017, and was a paperback pick by The New York Times Book Review.”

Gautreaux also authored “Same Place, Same Things” and “Welding with Children,” which are collections of short stories.

Department Head of English David Hanson shared why he thought Gautreaux’s achievement is important to the university.

“Tim Gautreaux’s short stories and novels are deeply rooted in this region,” said Hanson. “He grew up in Morgan City and attended Nicholls State for his undergraduate degree, later earning a Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina. But drawing on a native region for stories, as does our other writer-in-residence David Armand, doesn’t limit the appeal of a writer’s stories to readers in that region as proven by Dr. Gautreaux’s nationally recognized achievement.”

Gautreaux believes being raised in a working-class family was the inspiration for the book. He shared why he believes it is important to get involved in the craft of writing.

“Writing literary fiction is an art form, and like any art form, there’s a way to do it,” said Gautreaux. “The way involves the craftsmanship of choosing a voice, building a setting, drawing a character and plot, etc. Writing fiction is like music, painting and sculpting in that it’s not what you write about, but how you write it that counts.”

Gautreaux is retired from his work and spends his free time playing with his grandchildren and maintaining his home and acreage. He volunteers as a machinist and steam locomotive fireman and engineer for the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.

Gautreaux thinks that aspiring writers should read a lot of books in order to become good writers.

“As far as writing fiction goes, read 100 books of the type you like and think about how the author uses words and sentences, how he puts a narrative together, why he made the writing decisions he did, and what is the origin of his material,” said Gautreaux. “Unless you read a great deal, you’ll never be a good writer.”

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