Tim Winton, Eyrie

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I discovered this author last year after an Australian colleague recommended Cloudstreet. While Cloudstreet was fantastic both for its writing and insight into Australian life, I like this second foray into Tim Winton’s work a lot less. The writing is good, and he tells a compelling story about people who have encountered difficulties in life and are trying to cope (loss of job, health issues, marriage breakup, imprisonment of a child, dealing with that child’s offspring). Unfortunately, he touches on one of my pet peeves, the drug culture and drug-related violence, which I would much rather not hear about, even though it is very much part of real life for some people.

So I do like the writing, it is fresh and vibrant, full of regional expressions. I bought this book from Google and read it on my Android device. It was a good thing that the downloadable dictionary had a lot of Australian words, much better in that respect than my Kobo on which I read Cloudstreet.

Whereas Cloudstreet was set in the more distant 20th century, Eyrie takes place in the present time, with cell phones and texting featured as significant modes of communication. It is also set in the current business environment, where the dominant business in Western Australia is mining by powerful, giant companies. Tom Keely, the main character, is an environmental activist that lost his job after some scandal (maybe libel). In a moment of discouragement he thinks that maybe he could go work for one of the mining companies headquartered in Perth, handling public relations, but on second thought he tells himself that he could not live with that.

Tom runs into Gemma, who was a neighbor that his parents had taken in when her family was experiencing problems, and now lives on the same flour as him in a large appartment building in Fremantle. They have not seen each other since they were children. Gemma lives with her grandson Kai, because her daughter is in jail. She is threatened by her daughter’s companion, Stewie, a small time drug dealer, who wants money from her. Tom tries to help her, even taking her to his mother’s house for shelter. The conversations between Tom and his mother, as well as his memories of both his parents and his childhood neighborhood bring to light the complexity of their relationship, and the complicated consequences that being kind to others can have.

Thoughout this stressful time, Gemma refuses to call the police. Things to come to a head when Stewie sends one of his associates to attack Tom.

References

Winton, Tim. Eyrie. Harper Collins: Sydney, Australia, 2013.

Other things:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/30/eyrie-by-tim-winton-review-tower-block-blues

http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2013/october/1380549600/peter-conrad/tim-winton-s-eyrie-and-richard-flanagan-s-narrow-road-dee

http://www.sydneyreviewofbooks.com/the-quality-of-mercy/

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/firsttuesday/s3866109.htm

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