Dirt Music by Tim Winton


I found this an addictive book — I just couldn't stop reading it.  It is highly dramatic; that's part of it, but there's more.  The masterful storytelling takes you over, the slightly off-kilter use of words keeps you alert, and Winton's evident love of Western Australia, the shore, boats, and music takes you to another place. 

As in Shirley Hazzard's The Great Fire, love redeems two lost souls, but it's a hard road these two travel.  Luther Fox is the sole survivor of a freak accident that killed his family and Georgie Jutland is so uncomfortable in her upper middle class family that she made choices that assured her life would be difficult at every turn.  Fox fishes illegally in a village that has become affluent from fishing.  The affluence came after a wild west beginning that established the haves and the have-nots through violence.  When we begin, we find Georgie living with the godfather of the haves in White Point, so when she makes a connection with the poacher, we know we're in for a wild ride.  

In her three years in White Point Georgie kept to herself, but we do meet a few interesting characters.  There's Beaver, a bear of a man who repairs cars, has a dreadful past, and loves old movies.  And Rachel, a former social worker, who didn't fit in either, but at least knew the White Point stories.

Although a town called White Point does not exist in Western Australia, the travels made by Fox north to the Kimberleys can be followed on a map; all the incidental villages mentioned do exist.  The landscape on that route, as well as the town of Broome, on the shore of northern Western Australia, come to life in Winton's descriptions.

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