Friday, August 19, 2011

Pow! Pow! Pow!

The View from Here
I live on a beautiful hilltop over looking a tree-covered mountain. I love to sit outside and surf the net or, as I've been doing lately, read Tim Winton books. I just finished Dirt Music and just started Cloudstreet. He paints with words -- an example from Cloudstreet: "All day they travel. Their bones brittle up with the jolts. Limestone dust flies into the trees. Out of Capel, the smoke from a brushfire comes downwind in a spiritous column, like a train passing. Past the emaciated glitter of creeks, into the heat ahead, the bluewhite nothing of distance, they travel."

It's like poetry written in prose.

These two books, and I expect his others, too, provide a glimpse into Australian life. Cloudstreet reminds me a bit of Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath -- working class people struggling to feed their families in the years after the depression.

Winton is the second Australian writer I've read recently.

I was loaned a copy of Christos Tsiolkas' The Slap a few months ago and found it absolutely brilliant. Tsiolkas takes a domestic incident and describes it from eight different perspectives. The Slap is very much in your face -- in terms of the writing style. At times, it was shocking, particularly the language that some of the characters used, but not offensive. I think the "shock factor" was due mostly to the fact that my previous six or seven books had been works of classic literature -- Dostoyevsky,  Chekhov, Stefan Zweig, Adolfo Bioy Casres and Thomas Mann.

The Slap, which I enjoyed tremendously, takes a look at contemporary life in Australia. 

Anyway, so I am currently reading Cloudstreet -- sitting outside on the hillside -- overlooking these wonderful mountains and suddenly the calm is interrupted by -- POW POW POW. 

My neighbor, who lives a quarter of a mile away, is target practicing with his high-powered rifle. He pops off about a dozen rounds and he's done.

Having lived away from the states for a number of years -- the sound of a gun takes some getting used to...

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