Tag: Cloud Street

Eyrie by Tim Winton

Posted December 16, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

Eyrie by Tim WintonTitle: Eyrie (Goodreads)
Author: Tim Winton
Published: Penguin, 2013
Pages: 424
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Hardcover

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Tom Keely lives a life in solitude, away from the world. Somehow he has lost his bearings in his middle age and is held up in his high-rise apartment, where he can look down on the world. One day he runs into a neighbour and her introverted son. The woman recognises him from back in the day. This encounter shakes him up in a way he really doesn’t understand and he soon finds himself letting them into his life.

I’ve only read Breath by Tim Winton in the past, which I didn’t think too highly of, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with Eyrie. I know well enough to never judge an author by one book and Winton is acclaimed enough to make me think there is really something in his writing. While I wouldn’t say this book is amazing, I think I can see why people like Tim Winton as an author.

The plot is incredibly simple; there is nothing special about it and it has all been done before. This does however in fact open Tim Winton up to what he seems to do really well and that is exploring characters. He has this ability of taking these characters that seem to make sense on the surface but underneath they are complex. Humans are complex characters, not inheritable good or bad and I think Winton knows how to write this.

In the end I think the fact that the plot was very basic was my biggest problem with this novel, which is strange I’ve read and enjoyed some great novels that have virtually no plot but Eyrie didn’t work as I hoped. I think the fact that everything felt a little predictable (plot wise) made me feel detached. Apart from the plot, everything seemed to work. I know I shouldn’t get so hung up about the plot, maybe if it wasn’t so obvious I might have gotten more enjoyment from Eyrie.

Tim Winton is a decent writer, I’m sure I will find a book of his that I can connect with. I will keep looking; still have Cloudstreet, Dirt Music and others to try. The urban location of Eyrie meant that this book felt less like an Australian novel, luckily the slang saved it there. Anyone know which one will work best for me? I’m making an effort to read more Australian novels and am also looking for recommendations as well.


Breath by Tim Winton

Posted June 12, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

Breath by Tim WintonTitle: Breath (Goodreads)
Author: Tim Winton
Published: Picador, 2008
Pages: 224
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

In a small logging town near the fictional town of Angelus, on the wild coasts of Western Australia, two teenage boys find themselves taking up surfing with a former professional. Bruce “Pikelet” Pike and Ivan “Loonie” Loon find themselves being challenged into risky surfs in reef and shark-infested waters by Bill “Sando” Sanderson. Breath is the coming of age story that pushes these boys beyond their limits in a regimen of risk and reward.

Narrated by Bruce, now a divorced middle aged paramedic, the novel starts off with him on the scene to save teenagers life. This leads Pikelet to recount his teenager years in the 1970’s with his boyhood friend Loonie and their reckless lifestyle. The two teens pushed the limits of their courage, endurance and even sanity all for the approval from Sando. As they venture beyond the known in the relationships, in physical challenges, and in sexual behaviour.

While this is a typical Australian coming of age story, the influences of Bill Sando and his wife Eva who are both American really play a big role in the novel as well. The Australian and American culture clashing is either an excuse for the peculiar behaviour or just a look at the Americanisation of our country. While this is a novel about surfing, this also looks at how dangerous picking the wrong role model can be while venturing into exploring teenage life and the sexual awakening of a fifteen year old boy.

Now while I won’t go into the sexual relationship of Bill and Eva too much I’m a little surprised at how many books I’ve read recently that seem to look at the dangers of sexual relationships between an adult and a minor. In my ignorance I thought Lolita was the only one but recently What was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal], Tampa and, in Australian literature, Me and Mr Booker and The Yearning all look at this same issue. Now I never intended to read so many books on this disturbing topic but it is funny how you sometimes pick up novel and find similar themes throughout your book choices.

I have no interest in sports; unless you count WWE as a sport, I have been known to watch basketball and American football but as a general rule I would rather be doing something else. So when I read a book about surfing I don’t really care about surfing and how dangerous it is, I just think to myself, why not stay home and read instead. So half this book really felt like it dragged out, I get that they were buying for the approval of Sando by trying to pull off the risky waves but I just wasn’t interested.

I did however like what Tim Winton did with using Sando as a role model/idol for the boys and then proceeded to show just how dangerous that can be. The risks they take without thinking, all for the nod from Sando, was insane and it affected their friendship and sanity. You have the whole sexual desire idolisation happening with Bruce towards Eva as well but as I said before, I didn’t want to go into that. This book primarily looks at the recklessness of the risks we take and how we need to find a balance between being extraordinary and ordinary. Push the limits too many times and sooner or later your luck will run out.

This is my first Tim Winton book and while there were parts I was impressed with I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend this book. This is probably one of his lesser known works and maybe I should try something like Cloudstreet before making my mind up about this author. I do enjoy the lyrical prose for this book and the way he packed a lot of emotions into a book about extreme sports. I’ll be interested to see what he does in some of his other novels as he is known as one of the greatest Australian writers alive today.

For me, I didn’t connect with this book; I see and like what he did with this novel but I just don’t care enough about sports to care what risks the characters take. It felt a little too American for what should be a primarily Australian coming of age story but that is probably the point. I’m sure this is a book that people mainly love or hate but I just didn’t care enough to invest any emotion into this book. So for me it just felt like an average read with nothing worth getting excited about, but on the other end of the scale I can’t really criticise it either.