Wandering Thoughts

September 12, 2018

The shepard’s hut – 5 minute review

Filed under: Ramblings and Musings — terence @ 9:32 pm

Somewhere, days to the west of here, on the other edge of a continent, there’s farm country, poised between the sea, and the salt lakes and sand.

This is the country that’s home to Tim Winton’s novel ‘the shepard’s hut’. Home to the characters that pull you across the pages, home to the narrative has you hoping for a happy ending although, in the end, a hopeful ending’s all you get.

Yet for all the force of the narrative, it’s the land that makes this book — a landscape, not a portrait. Maybe it’s just me, taken as I am with the Australia that isn’t its people, but days after I reached the final page, with the characters beginning to fade, the abiding memory of the book has become the scenery it’s set within. Arid, yet alive, although governed by the harshest of laws.

Winton doesn’t just use description to conjure the land. Much is added by the messy business of hunting, and the knowledge the characters need to stay alive. This is all part of the story too, but the book could lose the bush-lore and still keep its central tale in tact. Much of the purpose of the art of survival seems to be to add to the picture. To help you the reader feel as much as possible of the colours and contours of the country between the last of the farms, and the beginning of the desert proper.

In the end it’s pretty easy to care for the characters, but even if you didn’t you could happily read this story just for the land alone.

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