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Dirt Music: A Novel Hardcover – Apr 30 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (April 30 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743228022
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743228022
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.1 x 24.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 771 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,660,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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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First Sentence
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

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

By saliero on April 5 2004
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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By Yon on March 9 2004
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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Format: Paperback
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 - I agree. Winton packs a lot of meaning into a few words, echoing the laconic, understated Australian idiom, where this is a real art form. It is a pleasure to read, and also a pleasure to recognise, with shock, the truth of what is said. There's something that really gets you on every page.
Of the plot? This is a Pilgrim's Progress for Luther (Lu) and Georgie - reminded me a bit of Randolph Stow's "To The Islands", although it goes further, to set the story in real time and real places. Like Winton's last book, "The Riders", the vision and journey are difficult and dark, but in the end some characters do find peace, and their journey makes a deeply rewarding read.
What of the characters? People we could take for granted as authentic Australians, but Winton makes us question them a bit. The rock lobster fisherman who pays fortunes for his fishing licence - and thinks he's bought entitlement to all of the sea and all in it around White Point. The white supremacist - but dying in a car crash, her last words being not to repent, but to justify her actions (that scene me yell out in shock and slam the book shut - but Winton's got them absolutely right). A sharp comment on all who wrap themselves in the Flag, to justify atrocities. Lu's brother and his wife, who Lu thinks the world of and living in a rural idyll - later seen as lazy, risking their childrens' well-being for a bit of fun and excitement.
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Format: Paperback
Like all great writers Tim Winton can make the very ordinary seem extraordinary. The storyline of this novel revolves around three characters. Each is dissatisfied with their lives for different reasons. Georgie is bored and losing interest in her current partner Jim, a successful fisherman who is still nursing the emotional scars caused by the death of his wife. Lu Fox is in an eternal struggle with seemingly everyone as the town loner and illegal fisherman. The triangle is formed when Lu helps a stranded Georgie whose car has broken down in the vast plains outside their town in WA. Their fling is very brief as Lu is run out of town for his covert raids on the town's important fishing waters.
The impression Georgie and Lu make on each other ensures that their thoughts bring them closer despite Lu's attempts at physical isolation in the remote top end of Australia.
Winton creates interesting characters, constantly struggling with their past as well as each other. He also has a special talent at somehow incorporating the natural environment of Western Australia into the lives of the novel's characters, the land is as alive and furtive as they are, as harsh and unforgiving as it is beautiful and vast, it is real frontier country and as such the characters endure and are molded by its extremities in their quest to find each other and their lost selves. You don't so much read about this countryside as smell, taste and become immersed in it along with the three protagonists.
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