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Dirt Music : A Novel by Tim Winton

Dirt Music : A Novel (original 2001; edition 2003)

by Tim Winton

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1,692324,219 (3.8)126
English (28)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  All languages (32)
Showing 1-25 of 28 (next | show all)
I didn't like this book at all and only read it through to the end because I needed an Australia-themed book for my book club. Some of it was hard to understand because of the Australian slang. The story was drawn out and got very boring. I ended up scanning the second half of the book. ( )
  cindyb29 | Jan 13, 2015 |
Despite the quality of the writing, I could find no compelling reason to finish this book. There were no characters to cheer for, none that I wanted to see secure or safe, and none that I really identified with. The characters were well developed, and like real people, had their weaknesses and laudable qualities; however, there were none that I liked, and I found many of the actions of most main characters frustrating and at times reprehensible.

It is a cleverly-written book, but I found the language and events too jarring to continue past the three-quarter mark. ( )
  russwood | Mar 31, 2013 |
Fishing is central to the western Australian village of White Point, driving the economy and shaping social order. Jim Buckridge is the best fisherman around, which affords him "big man on campus" status. His partner, Georgie Jutland, ended up in White Point after chucking a nursing career and a failed relationship. Their relationship is fragile: Jim mourns his first wife Debbie, who died of cancer, but he refuses to talk about it. His young sons see Georgie as the evil stepmother. Georgie stays up into the wee hours, drowning her sorrows in vodka. It's not surprising, then, when she discovers Luther Fox poaching fish in the dark of night and ends up in bed with him.

Well, OK, that was kind of surprising. The chemistry between Georgie and Lu wasn't well-developed, and her relationship with Jim still had life in it (that is, until she slept with Lu). But Luther was an interesting character, a man forever scarred by the sudden tragic loss of his entire family. I felt sorry for him, and wanted him to find love and happiness with Georgie. Thus Tim Winton sets up the central conflict, "what will Georgie do?" and takes the reader along on her quest. Along the way, he reveals tiny details that flesh out each man's past. What exactly happened to Luther's family? Why is Jim such a badass? Why won't he talk about Debbie, and what does he really want from Georgie? Winton also brings the Western Australian landscape to life. As someone completely unfamiliar with the geography and the flora and fauna, I kept a map close at hand and found images of animals, trees, and birds to visualize the scenery.

While Winton was successful in drawing me into the story and it held my interest, it fell short of its potential. Georgie's character could have been developed more fully. She was somewhat of a paradox: hard-edged and abrasive, but known for her caring and nursing skills. Not the least bit concerned about fashion or makeup, and yet considered sexy. It just didn't add up. Then, as the central conflict reached its climax, Winton placed his characters in a situation that struck me as far-fetched, and the resolution was just too neat to be believable. Ah, well. ( )
1 vote lauralkeet | Sep 25, 2012 |
I bought my first Tim Winton book "Breath" at Compass books (one of the best airport bookstores) in SFO airport, ironically enough on my way to Australia. I did not realize the author was Australian, until I began reading. Breath was Wonderful, but Dirt Music goes even further. A wonderful story of loss, rejection, tragedy, but also it is about forgiveness, and redemption. I can't recommend this book too much. Luther Fox loses his family in a freak accident, and spends the next year living “off the grid” and poaching fish.
Georgie goes from one failed relationship to another until the beginning of the book where she has been married to Jim for 3 loveless years. When Luther and Georgie meet, they find what has been missing in their lives, but set off a chain reaction neither could anticipate, not resolve.
This is a wonderful book. ( )
2 vote zmagic69 | Feb 27, 2012 |
I never found the way into this book. Boring characters, in a boring place, where nothing happens. This book was not for me. ( )
  edwinbcn | Oct 3, 2011 |
This book is a very touching and emotional book. The characters go through different stages in this book such as boredom to exitement. ( )
  SMG-JMonester | May 4, 2011 |
I really enjoyed this book and it kept me turning the pages till the end. I read it in a couple of days, so pretty fast for me! The story is set in White Point in Australia, a town dominated by the fishing trade, and is focused on Georgie. She's a bit of a nomad, drifting around the world when the whim takes her and ending up in a relationship with a man in White Point whom she comes to realise is not the right man for her.

The story is thrilling at points, very slow at others and conjured up the atmosphere of a hot, dry country where the sun can be your enemy. Recommended. ( )
  tixylix | May 2, 2011 |
Very much Australian. I read Winton's The Riders before, and there Australia and Europe were juxtaposed and sort of mingled, a bit Henry James' way, but this one is very much Australian, and takes place on the west coast of it- in beautiful and singular surroundings. The action starts in a fishing village, full of tough people making a tough living in a tough climate. There is a relationship triangle, and a lot of family and place secrets, and a lot of gorgeous nature, and then a quest, for all three of the main characters.
It was quite good. ( )
1 vote Niecierpek | Dec 18, 2010 |
Set at the turn of this century in a West Australian fishing village with a rugged history, Dirt Music gives us life lived upside down and backwards, and for a while it isn't easy to decide who we ought to sympathize with. Georgie Jutland, a burnt out nurse, has a bit of a history herself, but has tentatively settled in with widower Jim Buckridge, a successful commercial fisherman, and his two young sons. His past is mostly a mystery to her, although his reputation for revenge-oriented violence is no secret. His marriage and his wife's death are taboo subjects. Soon she becomes drawn into the life of Luther Fox, an unlicensed "shamateur" fisherman flirting with disaster by poaching abalone and lobsters. Buckridge and Fox are destined to be rivals for Georgie as well as for their marine quarry, but each will face a far more complex personal struggle to come to grips with himself. Their stories are layered and mingled beautifully, leading to a resolution that you won't see coming from very far away. Winton's writing is brilliant. Sentence after sentence, even whole paragraphs, demand to be re-read, not for their sense, but for their beauty and force. Dirt Music is a symphony. ( )
3 vote laytonwoman3rd | Nov 1, 2010 |
What do you do when your luck runs out?

Some people let their lives become a bitter search for revenge. Others decide to defy fate: "Russian bloke told me once. Said we all die. But you might as well die with music. Go out big."

Georgie Jutland has lived a chequered but adventurous life, fleeing from her family's bourgeois respectability. She's been as fearless about discarding men as she has about changing continents. But one day, she concludes that her luck has run out. She has lost the tough detachment she needed for her career as a cancer nurse. She has landed, like driftwood, in a feudalistic township in the brutal landscape of Western Australia. And without the self-confidence, her defiant brashness is starting to feel like empty bravado.

The man she's currently with is Jim Buckridge, a widower and the king of his lobster-fishing town. He no longer rules with vindictive violence, as he did when he was younger and as his father did before him. They do not love each other, but they have found an equilibrium, although it gives Georgie less and less of what she needs. Then one day, in a spirit of self-destructiveness, she has a sexual encounter with a local ne'er-do-well, the polar opposite of Jim and a man seen by the townsfolk as coming from a family tainted with bad luck.

This is a fantastic, complex read, about confidence, luck and coming to terms with the past. The landscape is almost a character in the book, described with lyrical beauty but inhospitable to human life. The writing is as vivid, spare and harsh as the landscape, with sentences whose significance you only realise pages later. There is real evil present in the town, but all the main characters are, to some extent, comprehensible and therefore forgiveable (not an easy call given some of the dynamics involved). ( )
5 vote wandering_star | Aug 15, 2010 |
Dirt Music is, in the simplest terms, a very fun book to read. Below the surface of the entertainment is some very well thought out characters. There is Georgie, the driving force of the plot who tends to have the feeling that something is missing in her life, though she is unsure what. There is Jim, a man with twisted and yet sensible logic who takes matters of pride as gravely serious matters. And finally, there is Lu, a man suffering from the loss of family and haunted by dirt music and memories. All three are lost people trying to find each other in their own ways, making the book not only fun to read but something the reader can easily relate to.
  LJuneOsborne | Aug 3, 2010 |
Bleak story of bleak characters in a bleak world that seemed very honest. Recommended. ( )
  debnance | Jan 29, 2010 |
I finished Dirt Music (Tim Winton) with a sense of loss. I was sorry to see the story end, especially as no clear conclusion was reached. That's okay, I'm a grownup, I can handle there not being a defined ending (I've given up on happy endings). Without giving any spoilers, a few thoughts:

Tim Winton is so detailed and thorough that you get a sense of every detail in the scenes. The weather, the feel of the dust on your skin, the smells of the eucalyptus, as well as the emotions of the character are felt, not simply read. I didn't care for the main female character, I thought she was unsympathetic and apathetic to other characters, even the one she loves. The male lead is great, but of course, it's fiction! He has to be THAT perfect to make it work.

The main themes are overcoming your own personality flaws, and the fear of being left behind. Winton's main character Lu has lost everyone he loves; on this journey he meets several characters that could represent those faces from his past. He also has to face the reality that his own perceptions from the past may have been wrong. Horrifyingly so.

Rumor has it that this will become a film. Rachel Weisz is signed to play Georgia, which sounds fine. But there is a bit of a mystery regarding Russell Crowe and Colin Farrell. IMDB, the movie database, lists Colin as playing Lu. However, another report says Russell would play Lu. The other main male character, Jim, is pretty fascinating: he could be played by Russell but defintely not Colin. So I'm not sure which is accurate. I hope that Russell plays Lu, but he could do the character Jim Buckridge with a bit of a evil streak which might be interesting to see.

I'd be very interested to see how a screenplay could be written to show the amount of time passing as well as do justice to the Australian terrain and the long stretches without dialogue. My first reaction was that it would be compared with Tom Hank's Castaway. I think Russell could carry that, I don't think Colin has that much depth.

Anyway, this book had me take out the atlas, the dictionary, and use Google several times to see the trees and earthforms he describes. I think a geologist would particularly like this book, lots of rock talk.

Lastly, I've noticed that in the three Winton books I've read that Winton seems to idolize children, almost in a mythological way. That's not a bad thing, but it just seems that the children in his books develop almost a fairy like quality of mystery and perfection. ( )
5 vote BlackSheepDances | Dec 24, 2009 |
One of my favourite reads of 2006 and my first by this author. I don't know if distance lends enchantment but the western Australian coast was so vividly evoked for me that I wanted to fly there straight away.

The prose is seemingly plain but at the same time poetic in an unstrained way.

It's a journey novel with all that sort of novel entails but it certainly felt different to the American type road novels, though no wish to criticise the latter on my part. ( )
  hazelk | May 15, 2009 |
Brilliant book with extraordinary stark yet poetic prose. I've never been to Western Australia but I swear I could smell the place - and the people! I loved his flawed and human characters. My only complaint is that a glossary of Aussie slang would not have gone astray. ( )
1 vote liehtzu | May 10, 2009 |
I first read the novel Breath by Tim Winton and was completely entranced, so I had to try some more of his books. Dirt Music does not disappoint. Tim Winton's writing is magical, and I was transported to Western and Northern Australia, as Lu Fox tries to survive in a world that has taken everyone and everything he loves.
This is a complex book where things are slowly revealed and you feel sympathy for all the characters. Savour it. Highly recommended. ( )
  Scrabblenut | Jan 28, 2009 |
Great read. Used really good descriptive language. This bloke can write. This story covered a lot of human emotions. The characters were real. I'drecommend this to any Australian although I'm not sure if non-Australians would relate to the descriptions of the countryside very well. ( )
  MarkKeeffe | Jan 5, 2009 |
Beautiful descriptive prose in this book. I could feel the humidity and burning heat as I turned the pages. Slow to develop and left me wondering where the story was going at several points. ( )
  happyanddandy1 | Oct 28, 2008 |
Beautifully evocative.
  emeraldgreen22 | Sep 29, 2008 |
Winner of a prestigious yearly award down under, Dirt Music creates a multi-textural experience of a quietly desperate love affair between an unlikely couple of loners. Winton explores alternate communication in this novel; the protagonists rarely say anything memorable, which speaks to those of us who suffer from the same malady of introversion. Instead, the characters express, feel, and ultimately live, through what they do - she heals through nursing and medicine, he has an elemental affinity with music. Haunting characterizations make this a novel you can never forget. ( )
  Rue_full | Jul 17, 2008 |
Dirt Music is one of those books that gets under your skin. Comes into your bed with you; changes your dreams; travels with you throughout the mundane details of everyday life. Winton's descriptive prose works both externally in its depiction of the natural land - the sea and desert of Western Australia which makes up its setting, and internally, in the way it goes deep inside the pain and anxieties of its characters, as they struggle to free themselves from tremendous damage, and paralysis. ( )
  maggieball | Jun 22, 2008 |
Kærlighedsroman fra nutidens Western Australia om sygeplejersken Georgia Jutland og den tidligere musiker Luther Fox der nu ernærer sig ved "sort" fiskeri. En lavmælt skildring om desillusionerede skæbner og knuste hjerter der søger sammen og sluttelig finder hinanden i det spektakulært smukke australske vildnis!
  birgitmikkelsen | Dec 5, 2007 |
Well this was a splendid read, and particularly enjoyable for the vividness with which Winton conjures up images of the coast and small towns of Western Australia and lush tropical northern coast of the continent. The interplay of the relationships between the three central characters and the roles of their respective pasts and backgrounds in shaping the action of the novel is very well handled indeed, and the characters themselves are never less than engaging as human beings even at those points when you'd probably rather not know them if they were your neighbours.

Winton's another new author to me whose work I'd like to read more of. ( )
  MelmoththeLost | Dec 2, 2007 |
Tim Winton's ability to capture the Australian landscrape in his writing is brilliant. His characters have great depth.
In this case, Jim, Georgia and Fox each have to struggle with their past and what they want in life to find a future. This is yet another book about finding an identity and being true to yourself ( )
  daniel82 | Oct 25, 2007 |
What starts out as a sketch of small-town life, becomes a sojourning road trip, becomes eventually a sort of man vs. nature heart of darkness story. All of it presented without hyperbole in an exquisitely detailed Western Australia.

Read the rest of my review of Dirt Music on my blog, The Nerd is the Word.

http://nerdword.blogspot.com/2006/05/17-dirt-music.html ( )
  Totalnerd | Jun 13, 2007 |
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