Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tim Winton

I've read a few books by Tim Winton so I know a little bit about him. Well, I know he's from Western Australia, at least. And I'm going to make the assumption that the sea is very important to him.

I first heard of him when Tracey kindly put up a post on Livejournal asking her friends to make Aussie book suggestions for me. One of the authors suggested was Winton.

The first book I read was Cloudstreet. I liked it but was a little confused. The jacket flap says this is the story of Sam Pickles who loses his fingers in an industrial mishap; of is wife Rose, who loathes her husband's weakness. That threw me off a bit because Rose is not his wife. She's his daughter. Dolly is the wife. It took me a while to get things straight. I'm slow sometimes.

I think the thing is I couldn't accept there being a mistake on the jacket flap. So I figured I was reading it all wrong. I figured I was missing something.

Anyway, I still liked the book.

My favorite Tim Winton book is The Riders. That book is beautifully tragic. I didn't understand the end though.  Nor did I really get the symbolism of the riders. See what I mean? I really am slow sometimes.

I've also read Dirt Music, The Shallows, and the new one....Breath.

I read one of his picture books at the Maritime Museum. I forgot the name.

And I read one of his young adult novels. I forgot that name too.

I should go look it up. But I figure I'll run into it while doing my research.

So, let's start that. I shall go talk to Lord Wiki.
Winton was not born in January like almost everyone else I've been researching these past few weeks.

His birthday is 4 August 1960. That would make him a Leo, I think.

Birthday Website Time

Yes. I'm right. He's a Leo.

Jack's a Leo too.

In numerology, he's the same as my husband. Numeral uno. And they have the same name!

Funny. Numerology/astrology speaking...Winton is a combination of my son and husband.

This website has this to say about the 1. .... for the most part, you are considered very good company, friendly, good-natured, and a wonderful conversationalist. People like you and are drawn to you. It is a good thing they are, because you are very sensitive to disapproval and you don't handle it very well.

That fits Tim (not Winton, but my husband) very well. At least I think so.

Winton was born in Perth, but when he was very young the family moved to Albany. I think I remember that city from when I obsessively played the travelers IQ test on Facebook. I hate to brag, but I'm going to do it anyway. I did pretty well with that test. At one time, I was in the top 25 for Oceania. I wonder if I'd remember any of it now.

Probably not.

I'm looking at Google Maps now.

Albany is five hours south from Perth. It's about five hours west of Esperance.

Esperance is special to me because when I did the Traveler IQ test, it was the only city I got exactly right. The test tells you how many miles (or Kilometers) you were off when trying to pinpoint the city. For Esperance, I got zero miles. I thought maybe that was all trying to tell me something--like go visit Esperance.

See?  I inflict weird spiritual meaning onto almost everything.

As for Albany, Lord Wiki says Donna Simpson and Vicki Thorn from the Waifs are from there as well. Also, one of the Sydney Swans comes from there....Ryan Brabazon.

Lord Wiki doesn't say much about Winton's childhood.

He says he lives in Western Australia now with his wife and three kids. Do they still live in Albany, or did they move?

Lord Wiki says Winton has also lived in Italy, France, Ireland, and Greece. I think he's so lucky. I really envy people who live in another country for awhile. I really hope it happens to me someday.

Winton went to school at the Curtin University of Technology in Perth. But that name is relatively new. When Winton attended, it was probably called Western Australian Institute of Technology. The technology thing throws me off a bit. It doesn't seem like right school for a writer. But I guess it has other stuff outside of technology. They seem to have some entertainment/art alumni people. And looking at the schools website now...they do have degrees in writing, acting, art, etc. The website has a career planner feature that's pretty cool.

While at school, Winton wrote his first novel, Open Swimmer. It won the Australian/Vogel Literary award of 1981. This award is for unpublished manuscripts of authors who are under thirty-five. I'm guessing you have to be an unpublished author, and not a published author with an unpublished manuscript. I'm looking at Lord Wiki's list of winners, trying to see if there are any names I recognize. There's Stephen Gray for The Author is a Thief. I have that book on my shelf and it's my next one to read after the Holocaust book. Kate Grenville is on the list for Lillian's Story. I haven't read that one, but I did read The Secret River recently. Ah! But I just looked at my shelf. Lillian's Story is there. So, I shall be reading that fairly soon too.

Winton's next book was Shallows. I read that, but I don't remember it much. I think it was about whaling. I remember liking it. It's kind of coming back to me. There's a husband and wife in the book. They have problems. Well, that probably describes almost all of Winton's books. He's good at describing marital difficulties.

All right, I just looked the book up on Amazon. It's about a woman living in a small town in which whaling is the main industry. And she's fighting against that industry. Okay. I remember it now.

That book won the Miles Franklin Award. That award is for published Australian books. Winton also won for Dirt Music. I'm surprise that none of Janette Turner Hospital books are on the list. Well, she IS on the short list. I'm not sure what short list means actually. I'm guessing it's like runner-ups?

Cloudstreet was published in 1991. This is the book that made Winton a huge success.

Lord Wiki says The Riders and Dirt Music are being made into movies. I hope they're good. I hate when good book are turned into really bad movies.

I just remembered something. I named my Facebook Haiku book after the main character in The Riders. Scully. I miss that guy. I don't really do Facebook anymore, so poor Scully has been neglected.

Oh! Lord Wiki says that Queenie (the anti-whaler) is also a character in Breath. I never noticed that! Who was she in Breath? Was she the main woman?  I can't say much because I don't want to give anything away here. But I better go look this up.

No, wait the main woman was American. I remember that now. And Amazon confirmed it for me. So, who was Queenie then in that book?

I like when writers put their characters in multiple books.  Stephen King does that. It's fun to find the connections.

Winton keeps to himself a lot. He makes an exception for conservation organizations. He's involved with the Australian Marine Conservation Society. In fact, his picture is on their front page.

The website has some valuable information on how we all can help our oceans. One thing annoys me on their site though. They have a sustainable seafood guide, but as far as I can have to buy it. I understand the organization wants to make money. But I think they should give out that information for free. Maybe they do somewhere on the website and I'm missing it. There are a few species to avoid on this page. They include, oreos, deepwater sharks, Cascade Plateau Orange Roughy, and yellow-fin tuna. I don't think we eat any of those .Well, of course I don't. I'm vegetarian. And even when I wasn't, I didn't do seafood. But Tim and Jack probably don't eat those either. Still, I'm not sure the fish they do eat is very ethical.

Winton is also part of the Stop the Toad group. They're trying to prevent the cane toad from taking over Western Australia. Okay. I feel relieved now. I had to make sure the organization was humane. I wouldn't want my Winton involved with anything cruel. The site says, In keeping with the ethics of humane animal treatment and in accordance with standards set by the Department of Environment and Conservation (formally CALM) all toads will be treated humanely and euthanised using CO2 (carbon dioxide) gas. At no time are toads to be used for cricket or golf, or killed or maimed in any other way. That's good!

The sad thing is I'm reading about the Holocaust now and it reminds me of the cane toad thing. The Final Solution. Rid the world of the Jews. Kill them. Torture them. Don't let them come into our borders.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Cane toads cause great problems for Australia's ecology. But people felt the same way about the Jews. And many people STILL feel that way.

I'm not trying to make a statement against getting rid of cane toads. I PROMISE I'm not. I do think it needs to be done. I just feel sad for the toads. They don't mean to be such a nuisance. And I think it's really sad that people feel the same about Jewish people. I know we can be a bit annoying sometimes, but we're not THAT bad.

Back to Lord Wiki. He reminded me of the young adult Winton book I read. It was one of the Lockie Leonard ones. I forgot which though. I'm thinking it was Lockie Leonard Human Torpedo. There was a Lockie Leonard TV show. I think I remember hearing that somewhere.

All right. Time to say good-bye to Lord Wiki. I shall try to find more interesting stuff.

The contemporary writer's website has some critical perspective stuff. It says Winton's books are full of strong woman and troubled men. I'm not sure if I've noticed that. The woman in The Riders is definitely not strong. I don't know what she is. I'd probably prefer to call her an evil bitch. And then there's that women in Breath. I'm not sure if I'd consider her strong. She might be strong, but I also think she's quite troubled.

Setting is very important to Winton. I think all of his books (at least the ones I've read) take place in Western Australia. Wait....Did the Riders take place there? Maybe it didn't.

Relationships between parents and children are important parts of his books. I HAVE noticed that. I liked how Winton described Sully's relationship to his daughter in Dirt Music.

Ah! Good! He was on Enough Rope. I love these interviews.

Winton says, When you're a teenager you feel overcome by all these problems. Everything seems enormous. Everything seems big. You seem tiny and bewildered. So, in a way, jumping into the ocean and diving deep was a way of getting over myself, you know, a way of leaving myself, not worrying that I wasn't tall enough, that I wasn't skinny enough, that I wasn't smart enough, that, you know, you didn't get the girl. You jump in the water and just... It was like a hallucinatory experience, you know? Fish, sharks, dolphins, seals and weird noises, like something out of a Kubrick movie.

When I was depressed last year, I was very attracted to the water. I had a need to go in and under it. It was such a comfort to put myself underwater and make the world disappear. I did it in the ocean. I did it in our swimming pool.  When things got better, my need for the water lessened. I hardly had any interest in going underwater during our last holiday to Australia. What's funny is I felt guilty about that. I couldn't figure out why I had lost that desire.

Winton has almost drowned before. But he says it was never that close. He didn't breath in water or anything.

His dad was a cop. Denton asks Winton if he overhead interesting stories.

Winton says, Well, I ended up finding out a lot more about my mates' parents than I ever expected to know. He says he lived a happy sheltered warm lift, and overhearing his dad's stories introduced him to the idea that other people didn't have such good lives. He says, You know, I guess it fuelled my imagination and I think it gave me more sympathy for other people.

Interesting....His paternal grandmother lived in a tent for thirty years. Wow.

Lord Wiki made it seem like Winton had moved to Albany when he was a young child. Or maybe I just misinterpreted it. Winton said that didn't happen until he was twelve. The move was a bit shocking for him because he had gone from the suburbs to a country town.

He says he knew he was going to be a writer by the time he was ten. That's cool.

He likes silence while he writes. I do too actually, but it's near impossible when you're homeschooling a child.

On writing, Winton says it's a strange way to live a life where you have to live by your wits - like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, and some days you're not sure if there's a rabbit in the hat and other days you're not sure if you've got the hat. But you've just got to go there and hope that something shows up. I can relate to that from when I wrote fiction. I can also relate to it as a blogger. Sometimes I worry that I'll go to the computer and nothing will come out. I worry I'll have nothing to say, and that I'll just end up copying facts from Lord Wiki. Usually the opposite happens though. I end up having too many things to say.

Winton's dad was in a coma....brought upon by a drunk driver. The same thing happened to my sister.

Anyway, the injury was hard on the family; especially Winton's mother. Then a stranger came to their house from a local church. He offered them his help in taking care of Winton's father. He was very helpful to them, and Winton was touched by that. I wish some pro-life people would learn something from that. What if instead of spending time picketing and yelling, they offered help to single mothers? What if they babysat? Scrubbed floors.... Cooked dinner.... Picked up groceries......

I think if pregnant women felt they'd have more support, less of them would get abortions.

I love what Winton talks about next. It's that crossing the line between being okay and being a horrible killer. Sometimes it's a thin line.

He says when he was young, he'd take his father's rifle and point it at people through the window. Then when the Port Arthur massacre took place, he thought of how that could have been him. He had been a happy need to kill anyone. But he asks....what if he had been unhappy? Would he have been capable of mass atrocities?

He says, And I realised that the people who were in jail were just people like me who'd done things that I'd thought about. 'Cause everybody thinks about doing hideous things. You sort're at the mercy of your own mind and your impulses and, um... I think it gave me a kind of a sympathy. It didn't make me kind of feel warm and fuzzy toward murderers and rapists, but I recognised them as human, not as somehow outside the species.

I think that's true. It's not our thoughts and desires that separate us from the bad people. It's our ability to stop those thoughts and desires from turning into reality.

I had an experience like Winton very recently. I was flipping channels and came across a movie about the guy who shot John Lennon. The assassin reminded me so much of myself.

He was lonely. I'm very lonely sometimes.

He was very obsessed with a celebrity. I get obsessed about things.

He traveled far to get contact with what he's obsessed with. I traveled all the way to Australia because I'm obsessed with it.

He carried around a favorite book. I used to carry around the book Alex the Life of a Child (the one that got me into Cystic Fibrosis). I even slept with the book sometimes!

 He saw connections in things, and noticed weird coincidences. I do that all the time.

 He was paranoid. I can get paranoid at times.

 He was delusional. I'm often delusional.

I watched this movie and started hating myself. What kind of freak I am?

But later I came to my senses. For every psycho obsessive stalker killer out there, there are probably thousands of innocent sweet weird obsessive people like me. I do worry sometimes that something will happen that will make me cross the line. Because of this, I have vowed that no matter what happens I shall never kill anyone. If God himself (if he exists) comes down and asks me to kill someone, I'll say no. That's not my responsibility. I don't care if a child is the son of Satan and is going to turn into an evil politician that kills millions. If God wants him dead, send a damn earthquake or something.

My only exception is self-defense. But even that scares me. What if I go crazy and THINK someone is trying to murder me when they're really not? Well, I guess the good news is I'm pretty damn weak. If I try to kill a person who is not truly trying to kill me back, they'll probably escape unharmed--unless I have secret magical powers and can kill people with my mind. Oops. I'm being delusional again.

I'm going to look at Google News now.

This article says he might win a fourth Miles Franklin award. That's good. I wonder if he'll win.

Cloudstreet is going to be made into a pay-tv series. It's going to have six parts. I wonder if we'll see it in America. Probably not.

Now I'm looking at YouTube. Here's a video that shows clips from the Lockie Leonard TV show. All I can say is I wish my first kiss had happened at a beach. Then maybe it wouldn't have been so awful.

IMDb has information about the Dirt Music movie. It's going to star Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz. Neither of them are Australian. The director, Phillip Noyce is Australian though. Originally Heath Ledger was supposed to be in the movie. He gave it up so he could be in The Dark Knight. I wonder if things would have ended differently if he had chosen Dirt Music.

Nicole Kidman wanted to be in the movie, but I guess they didn't want her. I can kind of picture her in the story though.

Here's a new fun thing I might start doing--look at Twitter Search. What are people saying about Tim Winton?

Lallylally says she's reading Tim Winton's Cloudstreet again. It's comforting. I'm not sure I found that book to be comforting; but I can relate to finding comfort in rereading the same book multiple times. I wonder if Lallylally ever sleeps with the book. Am I the only crazy person to ever have done this?

says, Tim Winton is my absolute favourite. Try Dirt Music or The Riders. I like Jeffrey Deaver for holiday reading. Or Kathy Reichs.

Well, that's about it for now.

We need to go eat lunch!