Summary and book reviews of Eyrie by Tim Winton

Eyrie

By Tim Winton

Eyrie
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  • Hardcover: Jun 2014,
    432 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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Book Summary

Tim Winton is Australia's most decorated and beloved literary novelist. Short-listed twice for the Booker Prize and the winner of a record four Miles Franklin Awards for Best Australian Novel, he has a gift for language virtually unrivaled among English-language novelists. His work is both tough and tender, primordial and new - always revealing the raw, instinctual drives that lure us together and rend us apart.

In Eyrie, Winton crafts the story of Tom Keely, a man struggling to accomplish good in an utterly fallen world. Once an ambitious, altruistic environmentalist, Keely now finds himself broke, embroiled in scandal, and struggling to piece together some semblance of a life. From the heights of his urban high-rise apartment, he surveys the wreckage of his life and the world he's tumbled out of love with. Just before he descends completely into pills and sorrow, a woman from his past and her preternatural child appear, perched on the edge of disaster, desperate for help.

When you're fighting to keep your head above water, how can you save someone else from drowning? As Keely slips into a nightmarish world of con artists, drug dealers, petty violence, and extortion, Winton confronts the cost of benevolence and creates a landscape of uncertainty. Eyrie is a thrilling and vertigo-inducing morality tale, at once brutal and lyrical, from one of our finest storytellers.

I

So.

Here was this stain on the carpet, a wet patch big as a coffee table. He had no idea what it was or how it got there. But the sight of it put the wind right up him.

Until now Thursday hadn’t seemed quite so threatening.

It was a simple enough thing, waking late and at liberty to the peals of the town hall clock below. Eight, nine, maybe ten in the a.m. – Keely lacked the will to count. All that stern, Calvinist tolling gave him the yips. Even closed, his eyes felt wine-sapped. He hung on a while delaying the inevitable, wondering just how much grief lay in wait. The tiny flat was hot already. Thick and heady with the fags and showers and fry-ups and dish-suds of others. The smells of his good neighbours. Which is to say the stench of strangers, for his fellow tower-dwellers were alien to him in the most satisfying way imaginable, anonymous and reassuringly disconnected, mere thuds and throat-clearings behind bare brick walls, laugh tracks and pongs he needn’t ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Tim Winton is known for crafting highly evocative settings. Discuss the landscape of Fremantle and the grit of Blackboy Crescent, the street where Tom Keely's earliest memories were formed.

  2. How do the novel's locales affect the way the characters see themselves?

  3. Discuss the title and its reference to an elevated bird's nest or other secluded perch. What does Keely see from the eyrie of his apartment, and in the eyrie of his mind? What sort of eyrie is he able to provide for Gemma and Kai?

  4. What does the novel say about the nature of evildoers such as Stewie and Clappy? Is addiction a cause or a symptom (or both) of the anguish experienced in their community?

  5. Why has Keely been drawn to the natural world all his life? ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Always one to emphasize plot and pace, Winton excels at crackling cinematic dialog, the best I have read in a long time. It serves to keep the tension high as the stakes grow increasingly desperate. Winton’s signature characters – strong women and troubled men – are also a strong component of Eyrie. Tom Keely might not be a very likeable character, but most readers can find something to relate to in his desperate struggle to hang on to some ballast in his life.   (Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

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Media Reviews
Booklist

Winton reveals Keely's, Gemma's, and Kai's backstories with tantalizing languor, doling out one dolorous detail at a time and filling the gaps with scenes of soaring insight and sharp satire.

Library Journal

Many readers will find the early chapters unpleasant, but they should persevere. The pacing, characters, and the plot come together making this a good choice for readers of dark and emotionally difficult literature.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Winton is ambitious; this is a state-of-the-nation novel about a world run amok... this is a fascinating, thought-provoking book

The Age (Australia)

Eyrie is a fine work by any standard... a novel for which our culture has been in urgent need.

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Tim Winton

Tim WintonTim Winton, the author of Eyrie, is that rare thing: a literary best-selling writer. While most American readers might still be getting to know this prolific author, he is as close to a national monument as person can get in his native Australia.

Born in 1960, Winton started work on his first novel at the age of just 19 when he was enrolled in a creative writing course at Curtin University in Perth. That first work, the novel Open Swimmer, went on to win the Vogel Australian National Literary Award. Since then, Winton has written dozens of books: novels, short-story collections and books for children. His work has received close to two-dozen awards including the prestigious Miles Franklin award. Two novels, Dirt Music and The Riders ...

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