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The Boy behind the Curtain (Tim Winton, Bolinda)

Tim Winton’s The Boy behind the Curtain is a collection of essays and reminiscences, some of it new and some previously published. Readers of Winton’s novels and stories will be familiar with much of the subject matter: environmental concerns, the impact of class on Australian society, Winton’s somewhat quirky Christian upbringing and the majesty of the sea’s creatures. Some of the essays are quite instructive. ‘The Battle for Ningaloo Reef’ provides fascinating insights on how to run a conservation campaign: the politics, the people and the frequent setbacks. ‘Lighting Out’, an alarming piece for any would-be writer, describes the tortuous process of novel writing, the self doubts and sense of failure. Winton can also be funny: ‘Betsy’, a story about his grandfather’s claptrap car, an embarrassing 1954 Hillman Minx, is hilarious. Taken as a whole, this collection comes across as a fragmentary memoir, a patchwork of memories and recollections. Winton narrates the audiobook himself, a recommendation in itself for Winton fans. His delivery is clear and his reading has a nice leisurely pace. As the book is a collection of essays, it’s perfect for episodic listening.

Chris Saliba is co-owner of North Melbourne Books and a freelance reviewer


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