Read novel by Tim Winton by Contributors to Wikimedia projects

Georgie, the heroine of the book, becomes fascinated while watching a stranger attempting to poach fish in an area where nobody can maintain secrets for very long; disillusioned with her relationship with the local fisherman legend Jim Buckridge, she contrives a meeting with the stranger and soon passion runs out of control between two bruised and emotionally fragile people.

The secret quickly becomes impossible to hide, and Jim wants revenge, whilst the poacher hikes north via Wittenoom (out of respect for his father who died of mesothelioma in the town) and Broome to an island off the remote coast of Kimberley beyond Kununurra to escape a confrontation. His subsequent struggles to survive in the hostile environment, knowing that he must try to literally cover his tracks, give this book its gripping denouement.

I decided to read Dirt Music after reading Cloudstreet and listening to Tim Winton speak on Radio National. For me the novel had three key elements, fractured characters, the journeys we go on and the place of space. I think Magdalena Ball captures the novel well in her review.

Dirt Music is a big sprawling novel about the ancient Australian land, about loss, life, death, and redemption, about change and stagnation, but above all about love, and its power to change people. Peopled with small, recognisable, and believable characters, and deep, intense themes, the prose is poetic, and powerful, and at times, the structure experimental, but it is possible to read this book solely for the plot. Fast, engaging, and stunningly beautiful, Dirt Music is the kind of book that can, and should be read, and re-read.

In regards to the characters, I really enjoyed the contrasts, both technically and personally:

Tim: Different tenses and perspectives offer you different things. It helps to distinguish the world that they are in. I used the different tenses to make them seem to be inhabiting worlds of their own – a voice, or tool that they could use to express their personalities, and experiences. Past tense offers authority, distance, and present tense offers emotional immediacy. This technique isn’t new. People have been doing that since long before the birth of modernity. It was just a means for allowing the reader to experience these characters from their own perspective.

It was a strange novel. I kept looking for something drastic to happen, only to realise that things were happening all of the time, crashing over us like waves. Sometimes we just have to notice.

My favourite part of the novel was the description of space. For me, I was taken back to my time in Lancelin a few years ago. I remember travelling north to see the Pinnicles, but we never ventured beyond that. Sadly, I never got the promised fresh lobster. As a place, I always had a feeling that there was always something more happening. Maybe there always is.