Dirt Music by Tim Winton

A library is special for many reasons. I have visited libraries from the age of reading picture books, but now, I value a library because you can take risks. You can go in and try out a new writer, and nothing is lost if they do not turn out to be a friend.

The display tables with books of a particular colour were a perfect contribution to this journey and led me to read an Australian novel I would never otherwise have picked up. But the novel I am reviewing came from a straightforward browse. Another book, another writer I would not have discovered without the library, indeed another Australian. And what a find Tim Winton’s Dirt Music is.

He writes mainly in short chapters. This makes it easy to read – but more importantly, it gives you time to take in the language, the descriptions, and time to build up the picture that Tim Winton is painting.

It is a cracking story revolving around Georgie Jutland, a misfit from a wealthy family, Jim Buckridge, a fisherman, and Luther Fox, a man dogged by bad luck and music. And you won’t forget the geography of the places visited in the novel. They are so well described they are burned into your consciousness with language like: ‘the morning crashing white from every window’.

The book is laced with a dry humour in exchanges that bring the characters to life. Throughout there is that practical quality of forgiveness – the novel is partly about forgiving yourself in order to forgive others. Red the guide says to Georgie: ‘And you believe that stuff. You know, God and revenge?’ To which she replies: ‘I don’t think the world is like that. Without some mercy, a bit of forgiveness, I reckon I’d prefer it to be completely random – meaningless.’

So, as with all great novels, it does talk about how to live our lives better. But make no mistake, the story, the characters, the language will all carry you along at a cracking pace.

Reviewed by a library member