Winton’s Woes

Tim Winton’s latest book ”Eyrie” is a curious, indulgent rant of a story of disillusionment and alienation, set in that fetid state of mining nirvana known as Western Australia. Winton’s cynical critique of that never-ending boom and its grasping denizens comes via the main male character, Tom Keely.

Middle-aged Tom has been ejected from the environmental movement by his injudicious outspokenness. Licking his wounds on the top floor of a spec-built Fremantle high-rise, with the aid of alcohol and drugs, his laments bounce along in fits of stupor or engagement. Winton’s gritty portrait of that seedy and seductive city makes Freo the main non-human hero of the book.

The story is too long with it’s winding plot. Maybe Winton doesn’t get serious editing these days? And his new party trick of repetitious recycling of clunky Aussie metaphors is like a dunny door in a gale. You quickly get annoyed by it. Like catching farts in a butterfly net. Flying like shit off a shovel. Nuttier than Queensland batshit. Bold as a mudlark. Loyal as a cattle dog. The ducks nuts. All examples from the book.

Truncated. Sentences. Are. Also. Annoying. Who said that was allowed? Ditto conversation without quotation marks, that other modish technique, which requires constant vigilance to see who’s talking, if anybody. The maestro’s over-written virtuosity (aka showing off?) gets in the way of the story. It kept me reading, but increasingly impatient. You have to wade through bucket-loads of colourful language and florid description. Ok, scrofulous is a cool word, but once is enough.

Redemption is available to Keely in his new relationships with a childhood friend and her fragile grandson, who also carry their fair shares of woes. Much is left unresolved, like life, some would say. But we are not rewarded with a proper ending or denouement. Left up in the air, as it were. More airy than eyrie. Like a soaring osprey in an updraft (my work!) that doesn’t land. Maybe we are just meant to enjoy the flight. There is an osprey in the story too, but it’s the most uplifting (oh yeah) image in this tale of woes. Such is life, indeed.

P.S. If you work out what the damp carpet in the opening scenes is all about, please let me know.


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