Tim Winton's modern classic Cloudstreet is unavoidably a masterpiece. But unlike the works that we normally associate with the esteemed "M word", it isn't prim, cold and correct.
This book is life and grit and salt and sweat. It is the dirt you build a home on and it is a gift.
My aim in writing this review is to acknowledge the impossibility of summing this book up. How can I possibly describe a book that has changed my life? It's futile trying to give you my experience in a nutshell when you can only really know by experiencing it yourself.
So this is really a lousy stab at revealing my heart.
Cloudstreet is deliciously well-written. I read it in a state of constant swoon. Tim Winton treats Australia like rare magic, and now the sky and earth appears to me imbued with dreams.
The book is life. I've never been so shocked and so upset. Great sadness sits beside great happiness in its swelling tide. It was real for me, every bit.
When I finished reading it, all I could do was weep and hold the book tight against my chest. I felt that for the first time, I had been given a piece of life and hope all my own. It is a gift I didn't feel worthy to receive, but no one can take it from me because now Cloudstreet is in my veins.
I never felt alone reading it. This is a book that deserves to be read in community and togetherness, to be shared and talked about until you're forced to admit that you could never get to the bottom of it. It is an individual and communal experience.
Cloudstreet for me is an epiphany of what it is to love. What is it to be a family? And what is home - people or places? Within it's pages I found an indescribable surety I was alive.