Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dirt Music by Tim Winton

Georgie is a 40-yr old woman who is living a strange existence with a partner she does not love, Jim, and his two sons. Jim is a fisherman in White Point in Western Australia and Georgie is a retired nurse who latched onto Jim after meeting him and his children on holiday in Lombok. Georgie’s days are filled with domestic chores and her nights are spent drinking and trawling the internet out of sheer boredom.

One early morning at the beach, she comes into contact with Luther Fox, a hermit who lives on the outskirts of the town, and a romance begins. The romance is a bit unbelievable—especially the development of it in the beginning. But all is forgiven because of Winton’s beautiful prose and descriptive powers that drew me in regardless of the plot.

Tension in the small town rises as secrets are slowly and painfully revealed to Georgie, who has felt like an outsider in the town she has lived in for three years. As Georgie had recently come to suspect, her husband Jim has a dark and nasty history. His despicable and incomprehensible personality comes to the fore when he learns of Georgie’s affair.

Georgie is not exactly a saint herself, and her indecision, passivity and complete selfishness is very frustrating because it continues to harm those around her, including her family. In fact, there is very little to like about Georgie, and I think the ability to create such compelling reading despite the disagreeable characters that populate the novel is a mark of a great writer.

Luther Fox, however, is a very complex and beautiful character. His love for his dead family is beautifully expressed in flashbacks. When the true nature of their relationship emerges as Fox becomes lost and delirious in the wilderness, it comes as a surprise but is resolved simply and gracefully in Fox’s mind.

Personally I am not a great fan of metaphorical writing and tend to prefer a rollicking read. Winton provides both in this novel. While the plot was thin in some spots, this did not take away any of the suspense and I found that I did not want to put it down.

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