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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He sings. He's sung.
This is a stunning novel in many unexpected ways, and for a newspaper such as the Mail on Sunday to say that it is "a book about the possibility and power of love" hardly even skims the surface of its beauty and its complexity.

With precious little knowledge of Australian literature, I confess to having approached it warily, and mainly on the recommendation of...
Published on 24 Sept. 2006 by jfp2006

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Got lost on the long, aimless road-trip in the middle & GAVE UP !!
You may like this book because it describes very well a fishing community on the west coast of Australia: landscape, lifestyle, people and all. But beware! This is the first book I have given up over half-way through! That I struggled on so far is testament to the writing quality. But what finally did it was when the "poacher" character, Lu ,seems to go off alone...
Published 4 months ago by mickreeves


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He sings. He's sung., 24 Sept. 2006
By 
jfp2006 (PARIS/France) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dirt Music (Paperback)
This is a stunning novel in many unexpected ways, and for a newspaper such as the Mail on Sunday to say that it is "a book about the possibility and power of love" hardly even skims the surface of its beauty and its complexity.

With precious little knowledge of Australian literature, I confess to having approached it warily, and mainly on the recommendation of a trustworthy friend, although also on the strength of its having been shortlisted for the Booker Prize [in 2002]. Also - and this seems to happen more and more often these days - the blurb on the back of the paperback edition is slightly misleading: it introduces us to the two main characters, Georgie Jutland, "stranded with a fisherman she doesn't love", and Luther Fox. "Outcast". And "so begins an unlikely alliance".

But this is not particularly accurate, given that, for much of the novel, after an initial idyllic but thwarted episode, Georgie and Luther find themselves many hundreds of miles apart. And Tim Winton's novel slowly but inexorably turns into a fascinating thriller, as disturbing elements from the past slowly emerge, concerning the tragic history of Fox's family, and the role played in that tragedy by Jim Buckridge, Georgie's doltish, swaggering and somewhat sadistic partner.

From the fishing community of White Point in Western Australia, the reader travels northwards with Fox into an increasingly hostile and wild landscape against which he has to pit his wits constantly in order to survive. It is a journey into an Australian heart of darkness, and Fox, despite the music in his soul, is sometime hard pressed to continue making sense of what he sees as "a life writ in mud".

I think a couple of previous reviewers have maybe been slightly over-critical of the way the novel ends: slightly contrived as it is, it is far from being clichéd, and certainly not melodramatic.

And though I know one is not supposed to separate the style from the substance, a special mention for Tim Winton's highly original writing. The daring combinations of words, whether it's "a stiff coffee", "runty melons", "generic furniture", "a snarl of vines", "red dripping tomatoes" [the list is endless] come off, every single time. "Dirt Music" is a book suffused with poetry and music of the most intoxicating variety. And will have me reading more Tim Winton very soon.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Strong Scarred Work, 15 Aug. 2003
This review is from: Dirt Music (Paperback)
Tim Winton's books are not light and easy. His characters are the walking wounded, scarred marred and often barely surviving. He besets them with harsh tragedies, violent accidents, abandonment. Sometimes their situations are so dire that you might want to put the book aside and go into the fresh air just to know that life isn't as bleak and cruel as he paints it. When you return to the narrative, wary and battle weary the chinks of light begin to appear.
Dirt Music reduced me to tears - Fox the sole survivor of a brutal family accident, an outcast of a harsh unforgiving Australian community finds love and redemption of a sort through Georgie, a woman who is as adrift as he. The novel is surprisingly suspenseful, so I won't write any more of the actual events, but God is it good! Tim Winton stands with Janette Turner Hospital as a major talent who has sprung from the arid ground of Australia.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Australian demotic, 16 Sept. 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dirt Music (Paperback)
Georgie Jutland is becalmed, like a boat without a sail, in a small, coastal fishing town in the southern Australian temperate zone. She's living with Jim Buckridge, a wild-man in his youth, who is now widowed, wealthy and worn down by resentment and guilt. Georgie has all she needs materially, but the reason she's latched onto Jim is to escape her own, less than happy family, where she seems forced by her sisters' conventionality to act the eternal renegade. Then she meets by accident a poacher - Luther Fox - a man who scrapes a living from illegal filching of the fishing grounds and diving for abalone. Buckridge and Fox have a long-standing feud and Georgie teases at the ugly back-story of their relationship, without making much headway.

Then circumstances force Fox to flee the town and the rest of the book concerns his headlong journey into the coastal hinterland of northern Australia, and Georgie's eventual search for him.

A recurring theme is the dirt music of the title, a mixture of blues, rock and folk-protest, dark and thrumming, like a pulse beat in the blood. This was the music Fox and his clan used to play, before the horrific accident that wiped most of them, children included, out of the world that hated them.

Winton writes here in what might be described as Australian demotic, secret thoughts half-strangled in clenched throats - a shock after the searing literary prose of his Booker-nominated novel The Riders. His range as a writer is powerful and impressive. For Winton in yet another guise, read Cloudstreet, an epic novel spanning half a century of Australian family life.

In Dirt Music, the natural world is something to be felt in the diaphragm, something that runs through your consciousness with murderous beauty, a landscape offering inhuman dimensions - Greek tragedy in the Antipodes.

This is an absorbing and unflinching novel, not for those who like things sure and simple, but I found deeply, movingly humane with a gripping plot and beautiful, hard-wrought prose that shreds your feelings and keeps you thinking.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cinematic Experience, 23 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Dirt Music (Paperback)
I am not an avid reader, nor prone to writing reviews, but this book is something special.
What makes it for me is the time and effort taken to embed the characters and the plot into the western Australian environment. In essence it is a very simple story, but the magic is in the telling; a stark story told with an eloquent richness.
I found it a real pleasure to find characters explicitly shaped by, and articulated through, the intensity of the landscape around them. It reminds me of Steinbeck in part, and conjures up expansive visual images.
I stayed up till the early hours to finish this book, and - if I have a criticism - it would be that ending comes together a little too conveniently. A minor grumble though, the journey the book takes you on is quite exceptional.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thin plot, daft ending, but wonderful writing, 2 Jun. 2008
By 
Phil (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dirt Music (Paperback)
What makes this book special is that it paints such beautiful pictures of Western Australia. It's a long and sumptuous read, and I had to put the book down, often, just to enjoy the images. Winton has a rare gift: within a few short chapters I felt I knew exactly how it would be to live in White Point. ('The southerly wind caused the windows to shudder. The house felt like a plane powering up at the end of a runway. Or maybe that was wishful thinking.')

The humour is very Australian, and all the better for that. But there's a lot of local vernacular, especially of the fishing industry, and I would have appreciated a glossary (at times, it was like reading Jabberwocky). The dialogue, too - brilliant though it is - can confuse, especially as it isn't flagged up by quotation marks, and the speaker is rarely identified. But the writing is so good that these feel like minor quibbles. However, the book does have one major flaw, and that's the plot. The two main characters spend only 30 or so pages in each other's company, which for me rendered the subsequent "will they get back together again?" storyline a little uninvolving. It didn't really make me feel very much. And the ending is frankly daft: disappointingly soap-like, for such a mature and original writer. So I'd say it's a book to read mainly for the beauty of the language, savouring every glorious description - and don't expect too much of the plot.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 31 Dec. 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Dirt Music (Paperback)
This book is fantastic. Its beautifully written yet raw and rugged as the landscape it paints. I really admire Winton as a writer as he has proved to be consistently readable but writes with passion and a knowledge of the country where the stories are set. The characters are carefully crafted and it is one of those books that transports you to another world. I wasn't entirely sure if i'd like it as I thought that the synopsis sounded readable but not particularly engaging. Yet I was left almost crying out wanting there to be some resolve in the end!! Its a really really great book and I wish i'd read it sooner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine depiction of the remote Australian west, 11 Oct. 2014
By 
The Welk (Southampton, Hampshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dirt Music (Paperback)
I was recommended this by a cousin on my most recent visit to Oz. I've never got out west but Tim Winton's powerful description of the Australian landscape is truly impressive - he captures superbly the epic quality of the vast coastline, the extraordinary scale of the land and the far horizons my mother still misses after so many years in the UK. The characters in the novel are not immediately sympathetic; drifters, deadbeats, the sad, lonely, addicted and crushed. From such unlikely material he creats a powerful narrative that becomes compelling. It is worth sticking with the novel through the rather shapeless middle. My only criticisms are that the character Jim Buckridge lacks depth and it is hard to see what is driving him to seek to recover Luther Fox from his northern exile as a part of some sort of penitential act to redress largely unspecified past wrongs. I also find it unlikely that an autodidact such as Luther would ever travel so far without at least one good book! That aside, this is a very good novel and well worth persevering with through some of the thickets in the rather dense middle sections.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars White Point Nightmare, 16 May 2014
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This review is from: Dirt Music (Paperback)
Read this book in advance of the R4 book club recording with the author. It's driven by an incredibly strong sense of place - one of the most extreme I've read - and the three main characters who push the plot along between them.It's worth reading for the descriptions of the WA coastline alone plus the Ozzy terminology of billies and swag etc - very colourful.
The three characters are all very damaged by lack of love, loss and alcohol - but what is the novel about? Some say it's Georgie's love for Lu but I think it's just as much about redemption - Jim Buckridge is not a good man but tries to do the right thing even if it is against his nature. You do wonder at the nastiness behind the idyllic setting of White Point - natural beauty does not seem to have rubbed off on its inhabitants. In the end the most sympathetic characters are the minor ones encountered along the journey - Menzies and Axel in the bush and Horrie and Bess in their decrepit van.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars poetic and gutsy, 20 July 2010
By 
littleredrobin (Aussie in the UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dirt Music (Paperback)
Another brilliant piece by Tim Winton. Reading some of the reviews people have shared, it strikes me that one man's meat is another man's poison. Winton's creations are visceral and emotive, they touch at the 'spaces in between' and never cease to capture the humanity of each of his characters. He offers the 'ordinary' back to his readers with a richness, depth and clarity so often absent in modern fiction. Nothing is too sacred, everything is up for exploration. He writes without apology. I am impressed by Winton again and again. The worlds that he conjures linger long after the final word is offered.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book that could have been even better., 18 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Dirt Music (Kindle Edition)
Oh what to say about Dirt Music, a book that both amazed and irritated? In the end I have come down on the positive side and hence the 4 star rating, but let's get the gripes out of the way first. Language and grammar are meant to combine as the art of communication, so why try and turn the reading of a book into a puzzle? Is it some sort of macho thing that persuades authors to abandon norms? The absence of quotation marks in a book which contained a not inconsiderable amount of dialogue, did NOT enhance the reading of the book. Was this meant to give the appearance of modernity? All I know is that I was often re-reading passages just to check who had been saying what to whom, which was frustrating bearing in mind the emotional intensity the exchanges were conveying. Note to the editor, it is not clever to put obstacles in the way of the reader, the book was wonderful in so many other ways why detract from that enjoyment?

The second gripe was also a part of the book's strength. The language was just beautiful. The descriptions of the landscape of Western Australia were superb and the prose poetic and lyrical. The tastes, smells and colours of the country were a huge part of the book and perhaps its greatest strength; John Steinbeck would have been proud of the sense of place imparted by Tim Winton's writing. The increasing emotional turmoil of Lu Fox as he headed away from White Point into the wilds and the physical privations he put himself through were as painful as raw nerve endings. My complaint though, is that this section went on far too long and became meandering, such that the narrative lost momentum significantly and was only regained in the last 30 or 40 pages or so. And then it was finished off too quickly.

Frustrations apart, I really enjoyed my first taste of Tim Winton and I have Cloudstreet lined for my next.
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Dirt Music
Dirt Music by Tim Winton (Paperback - 2 May 2008)
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