Monday, December 2

Tidbits from Tim Winton

I've almost finished reading Tim Winton's classic Cloudstreet and what an unforgettable ride it's been.  But I want to back track to share with you three tidbits from his beautiful writing.  

Just near the crest of a hill where the sun is ducking down, the old flatbed Chev gives up the fight and stalls quiet.  Out on the tray the kids groan like an opera.  All around the bush has gone the colour of cold roast.

Tim Winton.  1991.  Cloudstreet.  Viking.  p 25.

The thing that I so adore about this passage is the use of images.  More specifically, I adore how you have to provide your own interpretation as to what those images mean to you.  

"...the bush has gone the colour of cold roast..."  This is pregnant with so much meaning.  For me it means hot turning to tepid cool, red turning to pinky grey, fragrance changing from burnt to wearily smokey.  For you it might bring to mind completely different things.  It might mean anything depending on who is reading it and therefore it is alive.  

She was at the piano one evening a few weeks after, mulling over the possibilities for diversion, when her heart stopped.  She cried out in surprise, in outrage and her nose hit middle C hard enough to darken the room with sound.  Her nose was a strong and bony one, and there was middle C in that library until rigour mortis set in.  The room soaked her up and the summer heat worked on her body until its surface was as hard and dry as the crust of a pavlova.  

Tim Winton.  1991.  Cloudstreet.  Viking.  p 36.

This is grisly, crunchy and haunting.  "Middle C" becomes a theme throughout the story.  It's a disturbing introduction to the house but so succinctly sets up the atmosphere.  

Fish Lamb is flying.  The trees pass in a blur as he glides low, and the glass is cold against his cheek. On the back of his neck, his mother's hand feels like a hot scone.  

Tim Winton.  1991.  Cloudstreet.  Viking.  p 46.

In everything, there is a hint of deliciousness - an allusion to sultry, toothsome fragrance.  The world he writes is our world but the magic is brought to the surface.  

I have a few more things to share before I write my concluding review.  This book has been such an experience, such a lifetime, that I can't bear to let it go just yet.  There's so much to talk about and yet so much I can't put into words.  I hope that you will decide to treat yourself to this book.  It is a masterpiece and a gift.

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