This was my first Tim Winton, and I was disappointed. The characterisation was thin, the story not very interesting, and the questions raised by the narrative were unresolved (and unresolved for no good reason). The narrative invites us, for instance, to ask whether Keely (the protagonist) is suffering something worse that alcoholism (is he suffering from some major illness?). But the novel does nothing with that question. And the plot is implausible: Keely has apparently been hounded out of the environmental movement because he accused a politician of corruption. In the real world, his Green friends would have cheered him on!
So yes, it's a story of fall and redemption (?), a story about fathers and sons, and a story which has things to say about environmentalism and capitalism. But it doesn't find an aesthetic form which would allow it to explore those issues interestingly. Winton can clearly write (the landscape is evoked memorably), but in general this novel is a misfire rather than a triumph. Read Alex Miller's 'Coal Creek' or Richard Flanagan's 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' instead!
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