Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Tim Winton is an Australian writer and his novel Cloudstreet is infused with the setting and vernacular of Western Australia.

This is powerful writing with an ear for the poetry of language in prose.

Cloudstreet takes place between 1943-1963 and tells the story of two
working class families who live in the same house—albeit in separate
sections of the house. The families are a study in contrasts—the
Lambs are industrious and religious. The Pickles, the owners of the
house, believe in luck.

Tragedy, or ill luck, touches both families. Sam Pickles lost a
handful of fingers in an accident. Fish Lamb, the brightest of the
Lamb children, almost drowns and while his life is spared he is left
impaired and will remain childlike his whole life. Fish remembers
the other world—the world he was saved from when he almost drowned
and it is to that world he wants to return.

Throughout the book, Winton creates situations and characters that
are totally engaging. The themes are substantial—redemption, guilt, community, love.

Some of the scenes remind me of Latin American magic realism and some of the characters remind me of Flannery O”Connor’s characters. Tim Winton celebrates the ordinary in the extraordinary.

Fish is the moral compass of the book—but every character must work out life’s meaning. The book abounds with love and grace.

Linda Frances

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