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Dirt Music: A Novel [Hardcover]

Tim Winton
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Hardcover CDN $31.14  
Hardcover, April 30 2002 --  
Paperback CDN $15.16  
MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged CDN $13.13  

Book Description

April 30 2002

Luther Fox, a loner, haunted by his past, makes his living as an illegal fisherman -- a shamateur. Before everyone in his family was killed in a freak rollover, he grew melons and played guitar in the family band. Robbed of all that, he has turned his back on music. There's too much emotion in it, too much memory and pain.

One morning Fox is observed poaching by Georgie Jutland. Chance, or a kind of willed recklessness, has brought Georgie into the life and home of Jim Buckridge, the most prosperous fisherman in the area and a man who loathes poachers, Fox above all. But she's never fully settled into Jim's grand house on the water or into the inbred community with its history of violent secrets. After Georgie encounters Fox, her tentative hold on conventional life is severed. Neither of them would call it love, but they can't stay away from each other no matter how dangerous it is -- and out on White Point it is very dangerous.

Set in the dramatic landscape of Western Australia, Dirt Music is a love story about people stifled by grief and regret; a novel about the odds of breaking with the past and about the lure of music. Dirt music, Fox tells Georgie, is "anything you can play on a verandah or porch, without electricity." Even in the wild, Luther cannot escape it. There is, he discovers, no silence in nature.

Ambitious, perfectly calibrated, Dirt Music resonates with suspense and supercharged emotion -- and it confirms Tim Winton's status as the preeminent Australian novelist of his generation.


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From Amazon

Arguably one of the finest of all Australian novelists, Tim Winton shows that he remains in top form with Dirt Music, a wistful, charged, ardent novel of female loss and amatory redemption. The setting is Winton's favorite: the thorn-bushed, sheep-farmed, sun-punished boondocks of Western Australia. The cast is limited but spirited: the two chief protagonists are Georgie Jutland, a fortysomething adoptive mother with a vodka problem, and Luther Fox, a brooding, feral, bushwhacking poacher.

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 doesn't 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, Amazon.co.uk

From Publishers Weekly

The stunning new narrative by Australian writer Winton (The Riders, nominated for the Booker), a tale of three characters' perilous journey into the Australian wilderness in efforts to escape and atone for their pasts, may just be his breakthrough American publication. At 40, Georgie Jutland, former nurse, inveterate risk-taker, incipient alcoholic and lifelong rebel against her prominent family, has moved in with widowed lobster fisherman Jim Buckridge, "the uncrowned prince" of the western seaside community of White Point. Although Georgie devotes herself to Jim's two young sons, their relationship is uneasy and somehow empty. When she's drawn to shamateur (fish poacher) Luther Fox, who breaks the law to keep his mind from tragic memories, the lives of all three begin to unravel. Lu, the lone survivor of a disreputable family of musicians who specialized in dirt music (country blues), is a memorable character, vulnerable and appealing despite his many flaws. When the White Point community resorts to violence against him, he heads into the tropic wilderness of Australia's northern coast, and the plot begins to challenge CBS's Survivor. With masterly economy and control, Winton unfurls a story of secrets, regrets and new beginnings. His prose, sprinkled with regional vernacular, combines cool dispassion and lyric concision. Geography and landscape are palpable elements: as the narrative progresses, the atmosphere shifts from the austere monotony of a seacoast battered by wind into spectacular gorge country, the bare desolation of the desert and the terrible heat of the tropics. But it's each character's inner landscape that Winton authoritatively traverses with his unerring map of the heart.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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ONE NIGHT in November, another that had somehow become morning while she sat there, Georgie Jutland looked up to see her pale and furious face reflected in the window. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An earth moving story June 21 2004
Format: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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5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing love story June 3 2004
Format:Hardcover
This book deals with many issues: life in a small Australian fishing town, the mourning process of losing close family members, the feeling of being "direction-less" in life and the risks we need to take to find happiness and love. In an unconventional and refreshing way, the author takes two wounded and lost souls and, against all odds, draws their lives together for better or worse. What an unlikely satisfying experience was to read this book. It is moving and avoids all the cliches and blandness of a traditional love story.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not great April 5 2004
By saliero
Format:Paperback
I found this an enjoyable read. The subject matter interested me - dealing with grief and mid-life relationship crisis. I liked the setting and felt he evoked the landscape superbly. He also captured small town, insular Australia exceptionally well in the few characters drawn from the locale. Georgie's role as an outsider in her wealthy family rang true.
Actually the sum of the parts rang more true for me than when it was put together. The idea of the grand passion coming at a time when she was adrift emotionally was good. The hurt of the young boys which isolated her within the domestic setting was achingly poignant. Small town politics and the dynamics of Jim's place in a power structure was interesting and not something I can recall having read much of in the past, especially with respect to my own culture (Australian).
However, I found the last part of the book troublesome, and I think it disintegrated once the action moved to the remote island. I found it unbelievable and a bit of a Survivor / Boys Own Adventure stretch of the imagination.
Winton is a fluid writer - I didn't find the prose clumsy, cliched or contrived, I didn't cringe at all as I all too often find myself doing these days. I reckon there's a great book inside here wanting to get out. I read that Winton was ages behind on deadline for delivery of this, and seemed to be blocked. I read he had a whole different book written, which he scrapped and then wrote this almost in one go. I think it shows.
I am going to seek out some more of Winton's work, because I think he's a skilled writer, exploring some themes I find interesting, and his settings wonderful, and I have read better Winton books than this - Cloudsteet, and children's books The Deep and The Bugalugs Bum Thief .
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5.0 out of 5 stars To linger over March 9 2004
By Yon
Format:Paperback
Fox is the social outcast of a small village in Western Australia, a poacher, and the sole survivor of his ill fated family. Georgie is a social outcast from middle class Australia who crashlands in this small fishing village after forays to far lands that have not delivered her from her troubles. They both are adrift, they have their own journeys to make, and at some point their journeys intersect.
Dirt Riders is a portrayal of a particular way of life at the ragged edges of western civilization. All human frailties are here, in this small village. Violence and racism and ignorance are all here. Yet there is a freedom here that one can find only far from the concrete cities and malls, the freedom of a small faraway place, where the stars still shine in their abundant glory, where you catch your own food and heal your own wounds.
The landscape embraces it all - the sea, the sand dunes, the mangroves, the baobabs, the rivers, the red rocks. As I was reading, I could feel the ocean breeze stirring up from the pages of the book, I could see the lagoon shimmering in the heat, I could taste the dust and the salt.
And that is the wonder of this book. With short and pithy descriptions, it is both lyrical and simple. Though it is slow going at times, this is a book to savour, to linger over, it is a book you do not wish to part from.
If you have ever sought out the remote places, where the people are few and the dunes last forever, you will love this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A compulisve tale March 3 2004
By "binoz"
Format:Paperback
I enjoyed this book driving from Darwin to Alice Springs in Outback Australia but feel I could have been sat in a Manhatten sky scraper and still been sucked in by its atmosphere. Tim Winton delivers yet anohter compulsive read with slightly off-centre charachters you come to feel very close to. When the last CD finished I actually pulled off the highway to look for more as I could not bear it to be over! Highly reccomended for anyone on the road and anyone with a big heart for a big tale.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, needs Closure
I loved this book, both for the beauty of the prose and the likely characters. In the end, however I wish the author had put more thought into how his novel would close. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2004 by gailrocks
1.0 out of 5 stars Well written, maybe, but Fatally Flawed... November 24, 2003
There is a major error in this book which disturbs me greatly when I think that this book was even nominated for the Booker Prize. Jim Buckridge is 48 years old. Read more
Published on Nov. 24 2003 by Peter MacDonald
5.0 out of 5 stars Dirt Music - the authentic sound of Australia today?
I have just finished the book, and will have to read it again, it's given me a lot to think about. Other reviewers have commented on the WA landscape, and the dryness of the prose... Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2003 by Mike Brisco
4.0 out of 5 stars For me - not as good.
The only problem with writing a superlative book, is that the following ones are, by definition, not as good. Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
While this book does tend to be a little slow in spots, it is worth it to be able to experience the beautiful decriptions and beautiful tortured characters created by Winton.
Published on Aug. 22 2003 by Marie Howe
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book from a brilliant writer
Like all great writers Tim Winton can make the very ordinary seem extraordinary. The storyline of this novel revolves around three characters. Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2003 by M. T. Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever been To West Australia? You'll love this book
Tim Winton has a special way with words. Reading this book makes you smell the Indian Ocean in Broome, suffer from the heat there, smell Swan River in Perth... Read more
Published on Aug. 4 2003 by pompfis_hoppi
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will be with me for a long time
By a stroke of luck I stumbled onto Dirt Music at the library. What a find. Winton's writing is concise but rich; true and real. Read more
Published on Aug. 2 2003 by Lynn Meyer
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