on 27 July 2006
After reading 'dirt music' and 'the riders', this was my third Tim Winton.A collection of short stories,each one better than the last,weave a vision of characters which are somehow connected.Jumping from one person narrating to another,using different time lines,it keeps you guessing.Evoking Austraila only as Winton can,this book and its characters stay in your mind for a long time.A brilliant read.
on 22 March 2007
Don't think of this as a set of short stories, as characters spill from one story to another, illuminating both what you read and stories you have finished.
Winton writes about life on the other side of the tracks in Australia, with descriptions so vibrant that you feel the heat and the sweat on your skin. His characters are complex but totally believable, possibly because Winton challenges your perception of them by giving you a different viewpoint later.
There's a special appeal to the "linked" short story collection. Although the same names and places appear, each is new with the next story. The desperate men, the battered wives, the confused and bewildered children. They interact in their own ways, coming together and breaking apart over the years. In the hands of a master storyteller like Winton, each tale is a spark of reality. Every individual comes almost startlingly alive in but a few pages. As the sequence unfolds through the view of the protagonist, you gain fresh insights on circumstances. Absolute values have no place here, a lesson most of us would do well to remember.
The tales are set in a coastal town in Western Australia. Angelus is a fishing community - often under stress from unemployment, it is a contained locale. Children grow up as neighbours, move through school together, and interact in almost wildly varying ways as they mature. There are mysteries - why was a boy left broken and battered on a beach? Who was the girl found dead in a school loo and how did she die? Who escaped the almost desolate town and how bound do they remain to it in later years? These are common situations and questions in a small town, and the economic pressures add intensity to the expected conditions we all endured in adolescence. It is a credit to Winton's outstanding prose skills that beauty emerges within this forlorn community. A coastal location always provides a sense of expanded view lacking in inland towns. Yet here, as almost everywhere in Australia, the desert looms as an ever-present menace, poorly understood and a block to escape even mountains fail to match.
Vic Lang, the character around whom these stories weave, emerges first as a young child at a beach party. His life is complex. While in school, a girl with a facial birthmark fascinates him, but that's not the girl he marries. His attachments are intense and sometimes offbeat. He takes up with "Boner" McPharlin [the term comes from his job in an abattoir], the Huckleberry Finn of his time and place. Totally without ambition, Boner's presence gives Vic a basis for comparison with his own life. It's a shaky foundation to launch into adulthood. Vic symbolises the small-town outlook with his sense of being under constant scrutiny. In "The Long, Clear View", Vic reflects on his life and how the town imposed so much of itself on his later life.
North American readers often balk at the "culture shock" of Australian conditions and language. Winton's deft touch softens the shock to what might be deemed a "culture tickle". His character portrayals and the manner in which he deals with the passage of time among what become familiar people, guide the reader effortlessly through some unfamiliar terms and conditions. What does "shoot through" mean? It has nothing to do with weapons. It means "escape" or "desertion" depending on the protagonist's viewpoint. A "jacaranda" turns out to be a tree, ugly when not blooming, but a stunning array of colour in the proper season. If a blossom falls on while walking underneath, it is said to be a sign of good luck. Does that happen in Angelus?
Winton's realistic view of people and events is at odds with much of today's literature. His voice, while grim and sometimes even bleak, doesn't overwhelm the reader with despair. His people aren't crushed by events, they remain battlers even in the most seemingly desperate circumstances. You must, however, traverse the entire sequence to understand how they accomplish that feat. While each story stands entirely on its own, like a brick-built building, they must all be taken together to perceive the entire stunning edifice. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
on 9 April 2010
I first discovered Tim Winton in Cloudstreet. I have a great weakness for Australian writers - in particular Patrick White, Peter Carey (sometimes) and David Malouf. Tim Winton was a revelation: the people in Cloudstreet must have come originally from Ireland, such was the crazy character of their lives. The humanity was palpable. In The Turning, Winton excells himself. Less lightheardted than the Cloudstreet family saga, the series of short stories slowly builds up a multi-faceted picture of life (or lives) in the small Australian coastal town of Angelus. As one progresses (reading them sequentially is a good idea) threads start to form into a pattern - and it slowly dawns on the reader that the characters are all connected in one way or another. The same encounter is described from different perspectives. One is slowly tempted into the vast tapestry. One blurb suggests that the stories be read twice. A very good idea. Once to make the discoveries; once to revel in the richness and beauty of his descriptive skills. Winton's best yet.
on 30 October 2010
I am already a hugh Tim Winton fan. I came across him by accident from a radio review of his best book 'Breath' (also a great novel for adolescents although be aware of the sex scenes). However trying to be objective i would say 'The Turning' a book of short stories is a really good way to check him out. They are antipodean novels based mainly outdoors, however like all great writers the stories transcend cultures and explore the nature of humans and there enviroments on a micro and macro level.
The short stories are pacey and punchy. His full length novels are the same with the added benefit of him bringing more richness to his charactors and story lines. You never really know where any of his stories will go.
For me he combines some aspects of the writing style's of Mark Twain and John Steinbeck. Although Tim Winton the writer really comes through. I find his male charactors either adolescent or adult particularly interesting as their traits are so very varied and compelling. I would be interested on reviews from female readers.
on 4 December 2009
If you liked 'DIRT MUSIC' then you will love this one. If you haven't read Dirt Music then read it now !
I love Tim Winton's writing - at times he gets so much into quite short sentences and he never writes an unnecessary word. He is a marvellous storyteller involving his readers from the first line.
Short stories are not my favourites usually but this book was so good that when I finished the last story I started again on the first one !
The stories are all subtley interlinked and deal with ordinary folk trying to make sense of what is thrown at them as they live their lives. My favourite story was the book title one, showing the struggle of a woman trying to come to terms with her unhappy life.
I think having visited Australia on two occasions certainly helped me with some of the strange Aussie words which cannot be found in English dictionaries ! However the feelings and emotions expressed cross any language barrier.
on 5 January 2012
The Turning is a collection of short stories based on characters drawn from small town Australia. Tim Winton has a superb, clear,insightful and enviable style. The stories range from good to exceptional. The characters are beautifully portrayed and have a haunting quality. As short stories these do not follow the usual formulaic pattern, but are instead engaging studies of inter-related characters. I found it difficult to jump from short story to short story as each is powerful and absorbing in its own right.
Some of the stories deserve a maximum rating, but there are a few, including The Turning itself, which lack some credibility and there is a degree of stereo-typing of characters (e.g. Poms wearing socks and sandals) which detracted from the overall quality of the stories. Nevertheless an excellent read.
on 4 March 2010
Another Tim Winton gem. I dont usually like short stories, but chose this for our bookgroup as something different. The links between the stories were excellent, and in all it read like a novel. Because the links are not obvious immediately, I will definitely re-read this with even greater pleasure. This book was rated by our bookgroup as 7.5 out of 10 - one of the 4 highest rated books over a 2 year period.I would definitely recommend to other readers. Very evocative of Albany in the South West of WA (Angelus) and the era and social culture of the region. Excellent insight into the passions and lives of so many different people. This will resonate more with people from WA, particularly the references to the Royal Commission and the whaling station, but is a high quality novel for readers anywhere.
on 6 December 2009
The previous reviewers here have already given an idea of what to expect - the simple linked short stories that gradually meld into a subtle and powerful novel.
What struck me was how this 'Novel from Short Stories' construction and the unusual, almost poetic, use of language, took me back to a time, now long ago, when I first discovered Ray Bradbury via his 'Martian Chronicles' and the wonderful 'Dandelion Wine'. A comparison with Ray Bradbury? Well that can't be bad, can it!
This book has wonderful thought provoking short stories, they are well thought out and all linking in a subtle way. The characters are interesting and give you many insights into how people can behave under certain circumstances. I loved these descriptive unusual brilliant stories. Tim Winton is a master in this field - he brings richness, subtleness and a beautiful descriptive style.