Summary and book reviews of Dirt Music by Tim Winton

Dirt Music

By Tim Winton

Dirt Music
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  • Hardcover: May 2002,
    416 pages.
    Paperback: May 2003,
    416 pages.

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Book Summary

Luther Fox, a loner, haunted by his past, makes his living as an illegal fisherman -- a shamateur. Before everyone in his family was killed in a freak rollover, he grew melons and played guitar in the family band. Robbed of all that, he has turned his back on music. There's too much emotion in it, too much memory and pain.

One morning Fox is observed poaching by Georgie Jutland. Chance, or a kind of willed recklessness, has brought Georgie into the life and home of Jim Buckridge, the most prosperous fisherman in the area and a man who loathes poachers, Fox above all. But she's never fully settled into Jim's grand house on the water or into the inbred community with its history of violent secrets. After Georgie encounters Fox, her tentative hold on conventional life is severed. Neither of them would call it love, but they can't stay away from each other no matter how dangerous it is -- and out on White Point it is very dangerous.

Set in the dramatic landscape of Western Australia, Dirt Music is a love story about people stifled by grief and regret; a novel about the odds of breaking with the past and about the lure of music. Dirt music, Fox tells Georgie, is "anything you can play on a verandah or porch, without electricity." Even in the wild, Luther cannot escape it. There is, he discovers, no silence in nature.

Ambitious, perfectly calibrated, Dirt Music resonates with suspense and supercharged emotion -- and it confirms Tim Winton's status as the preeminent Australian novelist of his generation.

from Part One

One night in November, another that had somehow become morning while she sat there, Georgie Jutland looked up to see her pale and furious face reflected in the window. Only a moment before she'd been perusing the blueprints for a thirty-two-foot Pain Clark from 1913 which a sailing enthusiast from Manila had posted on his website, but she was bumped by the server and was overtaken by such a silly rush of anger that she had to wonder what was happening to her. Neither the boat nor the bloke in Manila meant a damn thing to her; they were of as little consequence as every other site she'd visited in the last six hours. In fact, she had to struggle to remember how she'd spent the time. She had traipsed through the Uffizi without any more attention than a footsore tourist. She'd stared at a live camera image of a mall in the city of Perth, been to the Frank Zappa fan club of Brazil, seen Francis Drake's chamberpot in the Tower of London and stumbled ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Library Journal - Robin Nesbitt

Filled with big ideas, interesting characters, and an intriguing plot, this novel is recommended for all public libraries.

Publishers Weekly

The stunning new narrative by Australian writer Winton (The Riders, nominated for the Booker), a tale of three characters' perilous journey into the Australian wilderness in efforts to escape and atone for their pasts, may just be his breakthrough American publication.

Kirkus Reviews

... a rich backdrop whose landscape and climate are evoked with muscular imagistic precision. A terrific novel. Winton's best yet.

Author Blurb Jeffrey Lent, author of In the Fall
Dirt Music strikes with the force of a full-blown natural catastrophe -- an intricately layered and impeccably executed novel that begins with a woman torn for the love of two men but escalates effortlessly into an examination of the central questions of human existence. The genius of Tim Winton is that for all of this he never loses his pacing, and the story lodges deeply within the reader. Dirt Music is that rare and wondrous thing -- a novel that is impossible to put down and yet one read slowly for the diamond brilliance of each sentence. My hands were shaking when it finally came to an end.

Author Blurb Gretel Erlich, author of The Solace of Open Spaces
Dirt Music plunges the reader straight into small-town life in Western Australia, where we find ourselves at once adrift and percussed by the tidal movements of love. Winton's prose has a shocking veracity, and a velocity that is intoxicating to behold.

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