Dirt Music Paperback – 2 May 2008
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Arguably one of the finest of all Australian novelists, Tim Winton shows that he remains on top mid-season form with Dirt Music, a wistful, charged, ardent novel of female loss and amatory redemption. The setting is Wintons favourite: the thorn-bushed, sheep-farmed, sun-punished boondocks of Western Australia. The cast is limited but spirited: the two chief protagonists are a fortysomething adoptive mother with a vodka problem called Georgie Jutland, and a brooding, feral, bushwhacking poacher, Luther Fox.
The plot is something else altogether: an elegantly wearied, cleverly finessed mutual odyssey, that opts to follow the sometimes intertwining, sometimes diverging lives of poor Georgie and Luther, as they try to deal with the odd alliance they comprise, as well as the complex and fractured lives they want to leave behind. The way Georgie deals with her unwitting inheritance of two dissatisfied adopted kids is particularly touching, poignant, and well written.
Best of all, though, is the prose. Somehow it manages to be simultaneously juicy and dry, like a desert cactus. This is especially true when Winton touches on the scented harshness of the Down Under outback: "the music is jagged and pushy and he for one just doesnt want to bloody hear it, but the outbursts of strings and piano are as austere and unconsoling as the pindan plain out there with its spindly acacia and red soil". This is a wise and accomplished novel. --Sean Thomas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'Written in seemingly effortless prose that never puts a foot wrong' Sunday TimesSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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".Read more ›
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Tim Winton doesn't write nice" novels, he writes memorable books. This is one of them. Finished last week and njow eading another, this one is still in my mind. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Florabunda
I was stunned by how vividly the landscape is described. It is a good story full of strong characters.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Brilliant imagery - rather raw in places but entirely grippingPublished 13 months ago by roxanne heathcote