Wednesday, 27 May 2009


Yesterday afternoon, on a bus-stop bench across the road from the dentist, I finished reading my third novel of the year: Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton. It was comfortably the best of the three.

Set in Australia during the 1950s, Cloudstreet revolves around two starkly different families that share a house in suburban western Australia, and the evolution of the families as their children grow to adulthood. The story ambles along and I guess explores the influences that different family members have on each other - mother on daughter, wife on husband, husband on wife, brother on brother - and the influence that each family has on the other. At the same time, though, it is an exploration of the times, and the changing of the times, I suppose, which is carried as much by the general flow of the storytelling as in the story itself. The writing is a strange mix of Steinbeck's gentle imitation of working class accents and lifestyles (although without the former's depth of feeling or insight), and something more lyrical, at times toeing the line of pretentiousness but without, in my opinion, crossing it. The rhythm of the story is at times uneven - the ending, or perhaps dénouément, feels somewhat peremptory and even unnecessary in my view - but in many ways it is the rhythm of the writing that wis more important, and this is generally strong and even throughout the book.

Having finished Cloudstreet, I'm now returning to FreeDarko Presents The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac, which I began after buying it for myself at Christmas, but which lends itself well to sporadic reading. Also, from today, I resume with the knowledge that it will at some point be followed by a sequel (or perhaps more accurately a prequel).

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