Saturday, February 02, 2008


Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Cloudstreet" is a book that I purchased at least a year ago and hadn't gotten around to yet. When I saw that it matched the criteria for three of the challenges I had entered, I decided this was a great time to read it.
Unread Authors Challenge I had never even heard of Tim Winton before I picked this book up. His writing is such a turn-about from the last book I read (The Story Girl) that I had a difficult time with it. L M Montgomery has this wonderful, flowing, flowery, descriptive prose while Winton writes in a stark, abrupt, choppy manner. The book contains a lot of dialogue without the standard punctuation (absolutely no quotation marks). Montgomery's book is filled with innocence, naivete, familial affection, and imagination. There is very little innocence or naivete in any of Winton's characters. In fact, they are wise and cynical. It highlights family dysfunction, but is no less imaginative even though it takes a completely different tack. Because of the three challenges, I was determined to plow through the book even though I was disillusioned at the first. Somewhere along the line though, I got caught in the cadence of Winton's writing and the sad story of his characters. Then I found it be well-written and compelling.
Armchair Traveler Challenge This book is set in western Australia, mostly in the city of Perth. It was certainly not written for the purpose of attracting visitors to that part of the world as the setting is almost as bleak as the story. And I had a hard time understanding the Australian dialect. Carn, bonzer, orright, cod my wallop, are just some examples. Some I never did figure out. In a way, it was fun trying to figure out what was going on.
Book Award Challenge "Cloudstreet" won the Miles Franklin Award. I have never heard of this award so I'm not sure what it's criteria is. But like many award-winning books, it does not tell a pretty tale. It is a saga of two completely different families: The Pickles, an alcoholic mother, gambling father, anorexic daughter and two odd bothers; and the Lambs, a large, noisy family, with an emotionally distant, hardworking and intense mother, an easy-going father, three sisters and three brothers, whose existance revolves around the handicapped brother and the accident that caused his handicap. These two disparate families come to inhabit the same large haunted home, and the book follows their lives over the course of twenty years. Even though it was rough going, the book eventually captured my attention as the families grow and come together and find their love for each other even if they fight that love all the way. By the time, I finished the book, I had become involved with the characters and the story. I can see why it would have won an award.
I really only liked two characters: Quick Lamb and his father, Lester, but Winton took you into the mind of several characters so you knew them and understood them, even though I could never quite understand some of their self-destructive antics.
I'm glad I read the book. It was interesting and very different from most of the books I read. Quite a look into human nature from a dark point of view. I probably would have liked it better if I had read it after another darker novel like "The Ambidextrist." As is, I can't say I enjoyed the experience very much.
Rating: 3.75
Posted by Framed at 10:42 PM

Cassie said...
Sounds a little like something I might like to read, only because I love dark but I'll probably pass on this one.
10/18/2007 9:31 AM
Bookfool said...
You need a Dinkum Dictionary. There is so much incomprehensible slang in Australian books that I bought myself a book to translate! I've only read a couple of the Miles Franklin award winners, but I enjoyed them. I think I just love the setting. Australia's way up there on the top of my wish list of places to go.
10/18/2007 7:29 PM
Booklogged said...
I think I can pass on this one, too. The Dinkum Dictionary sounds good, tho.
10/18/2007 10:01 PM
gautami tripathy said...
Thanks for the review. I do go for dark books...But not horror genre..:D
10/19/2007 11:17 PM
Framed said...
Gautami, I wouldn't call put this book in the horror genre. A ghost appears in maybe two paragraphs. It was an odd inclusion having very little to do with the story. It's appearance causes an accident which could have happened from any number of catalysts. Really odd.

this book did not appeal to me,
i had to read it for a english assignment,
his writing is irrating.
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