Dirt Music MP3 CD – Jan 2005
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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 the Hardcover edition.
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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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 .
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
First book I had read by this author, very enjoyable read. Now am reading another one of his, Eyrie.Published 5 months ago by Grandma N
Tim Winton's books are not light and easy. His characters are the walking wounded, scarred marred and often barely surviving. Read morePublished on June 21 2004 by Booksthatmatter
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... Read morePublished on June 3 2004 by E. M. Otis
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. Read morePublished on March 2 2004
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 morePublished on Jan. 9 2004 by gailrocks
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 morePublished on Nov. 24 2003 by Peter MacDonald
The only problem with writing a superlative book, is that the following ones are, by definition, not as good. Read morePublished on Sept. 7 2003
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 Amazon Customer