Sunday, November 17, 2013

On to Australia - Part 3

Its time to check in with the Land Down Under again as I committed to reading many books from the-place-I-want-to-visit-most-in-the-world. Pony-tailed Tim Winton proved to be an interesting guy worthy of his own blog, so having read his award-winning, highly acclaimed Cloudstreet,  here goes.

A pony-tailed Tim Winton

Can't help but like a guy who sponsors an award for primary and secondary school writers as does Tim Winton. You can read more about it here. The fact that (according to Wikipedia) all his books are still in print and have been printed in 18 different languages can't help but impress either. Personally, after reading
Cloudstreet, I'm caught in this in-between category of fandom, not hugely impressed with the story, but still able to see why he gets the accolades. I don't think I could improve upon the review I did for GoodReads, so here it is:

"A different kind of book, this Cloudstreet. Its one of those books where one can identify with those who give it high praise as well as those who didn't care for it. I didn't find the storyline particularly compelling nor any of the characters. However, the book grew on me. I started trying to decide if I even wanted to continue reading it, decided I did, and ended up really liking the ending. I felt it to be a somewhat depressing book most of the way, until, surprisingly, the ending!

What I liked:

*The book is written in short sections from each of the characters viewpoints. They can be as short as a paragraph or as long as several pages. This method of portraying each character's thoughts reminded me of ... clouds. Just a wisp of a thought here, or dark, brooding stormy clouds in some cases - very appropriate for the book.

*I loved the total Aussie-ness of the writing. Words like chiacked, chuffed, yairs, sozzled and bangcrack add that dash of Aussie flavor to the writing.

*The growth of the characters. I think Winton does an exceptional job of creating believable characters. I loved watching Rose Pickles and Quick Lamb mature. I never would have dreamed that either would become the people they were at the end of the book, but Winton brings them along gradually and credibly.

Here is a sample of writing that has no significance to the story and therefore is not a spoiler. I chose it so potential readers can see Winton's unique descriptiveness, creative use of language.

The high ceiling reaches into a cobwebby dimness with weak streaks of light blunting themselves against one another from opposite sides of the church. It's almost grand, but a good compromise, he thinks, between pooftery High Church and shoebox Baptist.

What I didn't care for:
*I don't like the switching around of tenses. I never "got" why it was even necessary or if it was even consistent with certain characters.

*I didn't understand the necessity of the Beryl character. Was she really even needed in the story?

So, while impressed with Winton's creative writing ability, characterization, overall, I'm not blown away by the book, but am very glad I stuck with it and finished it. Its a good book for Around-the-World readers who want to be immersed in Aussie-ness, however, I foresee a lot of readers not sticking it out due to the length and the fact that it isn't exactly action-packed."

After perusing some of Winton's other books, I am a little intrigued with the idea of reading The Riders. Dirt Music doesn't really strike a chord with me, but I find it interesting that it actually has its own music compilation CD entitled, Dirt Music- Music for a Novel. Unique. Nice.  Another somewhat unique aspect of Winton's writing is that he has had success writing for both adults and children. Not too many writers can pull that off as they usually find a niche and stick with it. Winton's works have also been adapted to the stage, big screen and even done as radio dramatizations. 

 Tim Winton's Awards and Acclaim

A little wishful thinking on my part....

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