Set on a coastal stretch of Western Australia, Tim Winton's stunning collection of connected stories is about turnings of all kinds -- changes of heart, slow awakenings, nasty surprises and accidents, sudden detours, resolves made or broken. Brothers cease speaking to each other, husbands abandon wives and children, grown men are haunted by childhood fears. People struggle against the weight of their own history and try to reconcile themselves to their place in the world. With extraordinary insight and tenderness, Winton explores the demons and frailties of ordinary people whose lives are not what they had hoped.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
October 02, 2006
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from The Turning by Tim Winton
AFTER FIVE YEARS of high school the final November arrives and leaves as suddenly as a spring storm. Exams. Graduation. Huge beach parties. Biggie and me, we're feverish with anticipation; we steel ourselves for a season of pandemonium. But after the initial celebrations, nothing really happens, not even summer itself. Week after week an endless misting drizzle wafts in from the sea. It beads in our hair and hangs from the tips of our noses while we trudge around town in the vain hope of scaring up some action. The southern sky presses down and the beaches and bays turn the colour of dirty tin. Somehow our crappy Saturday job at the meatworks becomes full-time and then Christmas comes and so do the dreaded exam results. The news is not good. A few of our classmates pack their bags for university and shoot through. Cheryl Button gets into Medicine. Vic Lang, the copper's kid, is dux of the school and doesn't even stay for graduation. And suddenly there we are, Biggie and me, heading to work every morning in a frigid wind in the January of our new lives, still in jeans and boots and flannel shirts, with beanies on our heads and the horizon around our ears.
The job mostly consists of hosing blood off the floors. Plumes of the stuff go into the harbour and old men sit in dinghies offshore to catch herring in the slick. Some days I can see me and Biggie out there as old codgers, anchored to the friggin place, stuck forever. Our time at the meatworks is supposed to be temporary. We're saving for a car, the V-8 Sandman we've been promising ourselves since we were fourteen. Mag wheels, a lurid spray job like something off a Yes album and a filthy great mattress in the back. A chick magnet, that's what we want. Until now we've had a biscuit tin full of twos and fivers but now we're making real money.
Trouble is, I can't stand it. I just know I won't last long enough to get that car. There's something I've never told Biggie in all our years of being mates. That I dream of escaping, of pissing off north to find some blue sky. Unlike him I'm not really from here. It's not hosing blood that shits me offýit's Angelus itself; I'm going nuts here. Until now, out of loyalty, I've kept it to myself, but by the beginning of February I'm chipping away at our old fantasy, talking instead about sitting under a mango tree with a cold beer, walking in a shady banana plantation with a girl in a cheesecloth dress. On our long walks home I bang on about cutting our own pineapples and climbing for coconuts. Mate, I say, can't you see yourself rubbing baby oil into a girl's strapless back on Cable Beach? Up north, mate, think north! I know Biggie loves this town and he's committed to the shared vision of the panel van, but I white-ant him day after day until it starts to pay off.
By the last weeks of February Biggie's starting to come around. He's talking wide open spaces now, trails to adventure, and I'm like this little urger in his ear. Then one grey day he crosses the line. We've been deputised to help pack skins. For eight hours we stand on the line fighting slippery chunks of cow hide into boxes so they can be sold as craybait. Our arms are slick with gore and pasted with orange and black beef-hairs. The smell isn't good but that's nothing compared with the feel of all those severed nostrils and lips and ears between your fingers. I don't make a sound, don't even stop for lunch, can't think about it. I'm just glad all those chunks are fresh because at least my hands are warm. Beside me Biggie's face gets darker and darker, and when the shift horn sounds he lurches away, his last carton half-empty. Fuck it, he says. We're outta here. That afternoon we ditch the Sandman idea and buy a Kombi from a hippy on the wharf. Two hundred bucks each.