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THE BOY BEHIND THE CURTAIN BY TIM WINTON

PUBLISHED BY PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE
REVIEW BY CALLIE STEVENS

Tim Winton presents us with another collection of memoirs, but this ranges more broadly than last year’s Island Home, and as such has something for everyone. Winton has given himself free reign here, covering many subject areas, and again proves his place as one of Australia’s most beloved writers.

In these true stories, vignettes of life in Western Australia, Winton’s prose is thoughtful and engaging. As ever, he writes with a poetic intensity that draws you in to his compelling narrative. He uses these impressions to make sense of the modern condition and ponder the way things have changed.

The recollections are diverse in nature, from the story of his grandfather’s embarrassing car “Betsy”, to his reflection on the religious life of the nation in “Twice on Sundays”. Here Winton reveals that the rather severe Church of Christ is where he learnt the importance of narrative, and the beauty and power of language. For me, this is one of his most interesting tales. Winton interrogates his church, how it changed, and how he himself behaved.

“In the Shadow of the Hospital” he describes hospitals, illness, imprisonment, recovery and joy with rich and evocative language. In “The Battle for Ningaloo Reef” Winton passionately relates this campaign which succeeded against all odds. Then, in “The Wait and the Flow” he examines the philosophy of the surfer and how it unlocked the artist in him. It’s a joyous description of this oceanic past-time that almost makes me want to give it a try.

The shorter form seems to give Winton room to fly, his words buffeting us from the pages, cajoling us to action, or showing us something rare. The pieces are inspiring and not to be missed.

Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.