28 April, 2013

Land's Edge

Land's Edge: A Coastal Memoir - Tim Winton
From Goodreads: On childhood holidays to the beach the sun and surf kept Tim Winton outside in the mornings, in the water; the wind would drive him indoors in the afternoons, to books and reading. This ebb and flow of the day became a way of life.
In this beautifully delicate memoir, Tim Winton writes about his obsession with what happens where the water meets the shore – about diving, dunes, beachcombing – and the sense of being on the precarious, wondrous edge of things that haunts his novels.
Complemented by the breathtaking photographs of Narelle Autio, Land's Edge is a celebration of the coastal life and those who surrender themselves to it.

What I Thought: Every time I read a Winton book I am amazed. The man's talent is boundless. He has a uniquely Australian voice without sounding overdone or ocker - a mature voice which retains the simplicity and straight forwardness of Australia. And in Land's Edge, he writes part of my childhood. The duality of suburb and coast, where coast makes you more alive, feel more, brighter colours and days that go too fast.

A quintessential Australian suburban life...But again, when I dream, when I remember...I don't see the picket fences and the Holden in the driveway... or hear the whine of the mowers...on rare and dreaded family slide nights,...I have to strain to recognise myself in Hush Puppies and a mohair turtleneck...Because in my memory of childhood there is always the smell of bubbling tar, of Pinke Zinke,the briny smell of the sea. It is always summer and I am on Scarborough Beach, blinded by light, with my shirt off and my back a map of dried salt and peeling sunburn.
 Another review I read described this book as a love letter to the sea, which is a perfect description. At just over 100 pages, it's a quick read, but once again Winton's prose is pure poetry. In chapter three there is a passage about swimming with sharks which had me enthralled - not a terrifying, heart stopping, over dramatic description, but one of wonder and awe that these creatures should  fill us with.

The shark alters course and the real shock hits you as you begin to see the size of its body. The colossal flanks are delicately spotted, as mesmeric as an Aboriginal dot painting, and at first sight as intimidating as a ship's hull. Astonishingly silent, unhurried and seemingly in slow motion, but hard work to keep up with for too long. Festooned with remoras, suckers, cleaners, tiny opportunists. Spangled and speckled by the light on the moving surface of the water, it makes you smile around your snorkel.
 Like Tim Winton, I am lucky enough to live close enough to the sea to experience it every day, and like him, it feeds my soul, soothes me and touches me daily. His description of Australians relationship with the sea is spot on.

Australians do not go to 'the seaside'...We go to the beach with a mixture of gusto and apprehension, for our sea is something to be reckoned with. We are reared on stories of shark attacks, broken necks from dumpings in the surf and the spectre of melanoma. I suspect we go because of these warnings, at times, and not simply despite them.
 Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge