I am going to write a brief blog post just for continuity. I put on a load of washing and a load of dishes and I put away the pipe of the vacuum cleaner. I have been dragging my way through Tim Winton's Cloudstreet today and feeling like I am wading through mud. The story feels like an episode of Housos but set in the first half of the 20th century and even that feels out of kilter. Instead of the advertised story of love and blah blah blah that I have read in reviews I find myself grinding my teeth past depressing whores, drunks, gamblers and god haters, vague references to ghosts and supernatural connections, dream sequences and cheap sex with poor white trash before that was a term. The highlight of the whole story, the only part that engaged my emotions as a reader is when the two wives/mothers dance together at their offspring's wedding. Nothing else has more than the blurry disconnectedness of the ghosts in the piano room or the vague listless leeching of colour as of the wallpaper in the hot sunlight of a western Australian summer.
I remember when I was first introduced to Tim Winton's work it was being praised for its 'refreshing' lack of adherence to writing forms and the twits of the writing world before twitter caught on, were tweeting to each other in the media about his lack of punctuation being something bold and new. I quite liked the awkwardness of reading the collection of short stories but now on reading Cloudstreet I find the move from external dialogue to internal dialogue with no clear segue a pain in the arse or as Tim Winton so politely puts it, a pain in the bum. Though why he bothers being polite about bums when he is quite happy to talk about hairy boxes I don't understand. Poo, shit, piss, thunderbox and vomit abound and maybe it is just my drug addled post surgical state but I am really disappointed this did not live up to any of the blather it had been showered with and felt more like a story put together by silly little boys behind the dunny.
I like Tim Winton the person in the interviews I have seen him in. I greatly appreciated his children's picture book "The Deep" but Cloudstreet is not a book I would pick up a second time and I am forcing my way to the end simply to assist students who have it on their reading list.
Okay it is tomorrow now and I should sleep. Sleep is apparently good for healing. I wonder if my phone works?
addendum: I had a long discussion with another writerly friend and we both agree that Tim Winton does an excellent job of place. His descriptions of places and the environment, of houses and buildings are very real and leave a strong lasting impression.