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The Turning


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The short story has become less popular in recent decades, but Winton's newest collection could convert confirmed novel readers. The stories interweave and overlap novel-like, following events in a small town in Western Australia over decades. The book opens with "Aquifer," which tells the origins of the town where most of the stories take place. A succession of stories, including "Damaged Goods" and "On Her Knees," chronicles the life of Vic, a boy and then a man obsessed with protecting the weak and righting wrong. "Fog" tells part of the story of Vic's father, a policeman on the outside of police corruption, while "Small Mercies" recounts how a man goes back to his small hometown with his child, following the suicide of his wife. A final group of stories concerns bad-tempered Max; his battered wife, Raelene; and his failed golden brother, Frank. With this work, Winton-twice nominated for the Booker Prize (for Dust Music and The Riders) and declared a national living treasure by the Australian National Trust-has something that is more than the sum of its parts. Recommended.-Amy Ford, St. Mary's Cty. Lib., Lexington Park, MD Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Well-known in his native Australia and twice shortlisted for the Man Booker, Winton (Dirt Music, etc.) is overdue for wider recognition in the U.S. This collection of linked stories showcases his strengths: memorable characters colliding with the moments that define them-for better or worse-and clean, evocative prose that captures the often stultifying life in smalltown Western Australia. In the title story, Raelene, a young wife and mother living in a trailer park with her abusive husband, Max, becomes fascinated with her happy new neighbors; the seemingly perfect couple's influence sets Raelene on a muddled path toward self-examination, resulting in a transformation shocking for both its brutality and na?vet?. "Sand" reveals Max's cruelty as a young boy-he tries to bury his younger brother alive-while "Family" shows the two brothers meeting again as adults, with the balance of power between them shifting dramatically. Another character, Vic, is central to the book: he appears as an awkward adolescent fixated on unattainable older girls, as a young man coping with the legacy of his father's alcoholism and abandonment, and as a middle-aged man unable to come to terms with his past. Winton reveals a wide but finely turned swath of simmering inner lives; the sweetness of these stories, as well as their sharp bite, feels earned and real. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Just the thought of a new Tim Winton must have every bookseller in the country rubbing their hands together with glee and ordering up big! (Bear in mind that, according to APA figures, Dirt Music sold over 100,000 copies in hardback alone.) Winton’s new book, The Turning, is an extraordinary collection of short stories linked by their locations and many of their characters. Set in the small coastal towns at the southern end of Western Australia, Winton gives his readers an incredibly sensual picture of Angelus and its neighbours. We can smell the cannery, taste the salt in the air and feel the desperation in the lives of its inhabitants. These are gems of short stories—each is brilliantly written, captivating and unique—and together they make a tapestry that will have you turning back to the first page as soon as you reach the end. The stories overlap so that you keep bumping into the same characters, sometimes in a supporting role, sometimes as the heroes. The boy you see on the beach with his legs broken becomes Boner McPharlin four stories later and a puzzle piece falls into place. In some of the stories you never learn the narrator’s name, and it is only as you look back lingeringly that you realise that, of course, this is part of your favourite character’s journey. I defy anyone to read The Turning and not want to immediately go back to the start and do it all over again. Part of the satisfaction in reading it again comes from the feeling of discovery as you make new connections between the stories. The Turning overflows with longing—some characters long to escape, others to connect with someone, and others long to return. There are dark and vicious episodes, stories that will break your heart, and others that will have you laughing out loud. This is master storytelling by one of our finest writers. As a collection of short stories it is magnificent, but it also transcends its form and makes a breathtakingly beautiful and challenging novel. In spite of the teetering pile of unread books by my bed, I have already gone back and read The Turning for a third time—just for the sheer joy of it. Katherine Lyall-Watson is coordinator of Brisbane’s Better Bookshops and a bookseller at Avid Reader C. 2004 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

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